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Choosing Words Wisely in Communication With Patients With Heart Failure and Families

      The complex and often unpredictable course of heart failure (HF) provides many opportunities for communication between clinicians and patients about important subjects as advance care planning, disease state education, therapeutic options and limitations, and end-of-life care. Studies of patients with HF demonstrate that, when engaging in such complex communication, specific language matters in patient experience and in shared decision-making with providers. To date, clinical reports have outlined useful frameworks for communication with patients with HF but have not yet broached specific language crucial to furthering whole person care, particularly in the complex and emotional realm of advancing disease and transitions to end-of-life care. In this work, the investigators unpack language commonly used in advanced HF care and provide explicit suggestions to better provide such pivotal communication. In conclusion, specific phrasing may significantly impact patient experiences and outcomes. Communication that focuses on the disease itself and the therapy or intervention in question may help remove the patient from potential negative emotions, thus facilitating more objective shared decision-making with the clinician.
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