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Image by Sivani Bandaru

Loss of Control-Video highlights:

Loss of control can: 

  • Be pervasive throughout an illness.

  • Cause patients to experience feelings of helplessness.

  • Affect patients' management of their medical needs.

Health social workers can:

  • Identity with patients ways to reestablish control in their lives. 

Loss of Control 

 Loss of Control can become intensified by

Feelings of Helplessness

Patients may feel ill-prepared to manage the medications, medical appointments, diet, and physical activity changes they are experiencing.  


Image by Mary Brennan

Health social workers look for: 

  • Patient gaps in managing their medical care.

The patient's gaps could be due to:

  • Limited health literacy.

  • Difficulty planning.

  • Difficulty understanding how to navigate the medical systems. 

Examples of ways to aid are:

  • Creating Medication Charts.

  • Appointment Calendars.

  • Meal Planning.

Image by Claire Kelly
Image by K. Mitch Hodge

Extended Hospitalizations

With specific diagnoses, patients may stay in the hospital for an extended period and/or have frequent hospitalizations. These hospitalizations often disrupts the patient's life.



The goal with our patients is

to decrease the disruptions in their lives.

Ways to decrease disruptions to a patient's life are: 

  • Working on discharge planning needs.

  • Planned follow-up appointments.

  • Collaborate with outside agencies such as work or school. 

Image by Alec Douglas
Image by Johannes Plenio
Uncertainty of Prognosis
Certain diseases do not have a cure, so patients' health will continue to decline. The unpredictable nature of such an illness can create a heightened sense of anxiety. 

The health social workers role is to aid patients to develop anxiety coping skills.

Some examples of techniques we can use with patients are: 

  • Guided meditation techniques.

  • Distress tolerance techniques. 

  • Stress reduction Activities - art, music, physical outings or yoga activities.

Image by Filip Zrnzević

Poor Communication

Communication breakdowns between patients and their doctors can be caused by:

  • Conflicting information.

  • Rushed conversations.

  • Different communication styles.

  • Lack of consideration of cultural values (Anderson et al., 2008; Downar et al., 2020). 

Health social workers can:

  • Identify the gaps in health literacy. 

  • Identify lack of cultural considerations by the medical providers. 

  • Address language barriers. 

  • Advocate for culturally appropriate interventions. 

  • Help patients create interventions such as: 

    • A list of questions to ask providers.

    • Advocate for providers to clarify conflicting information.

    • Request family meetings with the providers and consultants. 

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