According to a 2011 Gallup poll, nurses are ranked as the most trusted professionals in the United States. One of the most admired nursing skills is the ability to put patients at ease. When patients enter into a healthcare setting, they are often apprehensive about sharing personal health information. Caring nurses can alleviate the hesitance of patients and encourage them to be forthcoming with this information. The initial health history interview can be an excellent opportunity to develop supportive relationships between patients and nurses. Nurses may employ a variety of communication skills and interview techniques to foster strong bonds with patients and to effectively facilitate the diagnostic process. In conducting interviews, advanced practice nurses must also take into account a range of patient-specific factors that may impact the questions they ask, how they ask those questions, and their complete assessment of the patient’s health. This week, you will consider how social determinants of health such as age, gender, ethnicity, and environmental situation impact the health and risk assessment of the patients you serve. You will also consider how social determinants of health influence your interview and communication techniques as you work in partnership with a patient to gather data to build an accurate health history.

The trust and rapport established between nurses and patients is crucial in delivering high-quality healthcare. Nurses have consistently been ranked as the most trusted professionals in the United States, and one of the reasons for this is their ability to put patients at ease (Gallup, 2011). Patients often enter healthcare settings feeling apprehensive and hesitant about sharing personal health information. However, with the support of caring nurses, these barriers can be diminished, leading to patients feeling more comfortable and willing to disclose important information.

One key opportunity for nurses to build strong relationships with patients is during the initial health history interview. This interview serves as a foundation for understanding the patient’s medical history, current health concerns, and risk factors. It also provides an opportunity for nurses to establish trust and a supportive rapport with the patient. To effectively facilitate the diagnostic process, nurses need to employ various communication skills and interview techniques that foster these strong bonds with patients (Asher, 2014).

However, it is important for advanced practice nurses to recognize that each patient is unique, and there are patient-specific factors that may impact the interview process and assessment of health. These patient-specific factors are known as social determinants of health and include factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, and environmental situation (Healthy People, 2020). Understanding how these social determinants of health influence a patient’s health and risk assessment is essential in providing comprehensive and patient-centered care.

For instance, age can significantly impact a patient’s health and risk assessment. Older adults may have multiple chronic conditions, require different assessment techniques, and have unique healthcare needs compared to younger adults. Additionally, older adults may experience age-related changes in cognition, which can affect their ability to remember and provide accurate health information (Hinkle & Cheever, 2018). Nurses must tailor their interview and communication strategies to account for these age-related factors.

Gender is another important social determinant of health. It can influence the prevalence and manifestation of certain health conditions, as well as impact how patients perceive and communicate their symptoms (World Health Organization, 2019). For example, men may be less likely to report mental health symptoms due to societal norms and stigma. Nurses need to be sensitive to these gender-related experiences and adjust their interview techniques accordingly to ensure accurate and holistic health assessments.

Ethnicity also plays a significant role in health and risk assessments. Different ethnic groups may have unique cultural beliefs, practices, and health disparities. Nurses must approach interviews with cultural sensitivity and incorporate cultural competence into their assessment process. This includes being aware of cultural norms, values, and beliefs that may influence how patients perceive and communicate health information. Culturally tailored communication techniques can foster trust and understanding between the nurse and patient (Leininger, 1991).

Furthermore, the environmental situation in which patients live can impact their health and risk assessment. Social and economic factors such as housing conditions, access to healthcare services, and community resources can influence an individual’s health outcomes. Patients living in disadvantaged neighborhoods may face barriers to healthcare and have higher risks for certain health conditions (Braveman et al., 2011). Nurses must take these environmental factors into consideration when conducting interviews, as they may influence a patient’s health behaviors and access to care.

In conclusion, nurses have the pivotal role of establishing trust and rapport with patients. The health history interview is an essential opportunity for nurses to build supportive relationships and facilitate the diagnostic process. However, it is important for nurses to recognize the influence of social determinants of health, such as age, gender, ethnicity, and environmental situation, on a patient’s health and risk assessment. By tailoring interview and communication techniques to account for these factors, nurses can provide patient-centered care that addresses the unique needs and experiences of each individual.