Persuasive Communication Psychology – Start with the Basics

By Noa L., VP Business Development, Vaica
Olivia R. Van Wyck, contributor

Medication adherence is a multifaceted issue. Numerous factors must be taken into consideration when healthcare professionals want patients to take their medication as prescribed. One factor that can be easily overlooked is how healthcare professionals communicate with patients. Simply changing the tone or phrasing of statements made to patients could significantly impact whether or not they take their medications.

So what does effective, persuasive communication with patients look like?

In an article written on the psychology of language, the author went into detail about how tone and phrasing can impact how people receive verbal information. The most relevant section of the article to medication adherence was about the most persuasive words. These words include “you, because, free, instantly”. The first word, “you” could also be the reason why in a different article, published by The Pharmacy Times, the author stated that a person will remember 70% more of a conversation if the person’s name is stated within the first 3 words of the conversation as well as at the end. The second word, “because”, provides a reason for why patients should take their medication. If patients know why they are taking their medication and why it benefits them, then they may feel more inclined to take it. “Free” is difficult to provide when it comes to medication costs, however, as the article in The Pharmacy Times mentioned, lifestyles changes are free. One free lifestyle change is taking daily walks which can help lower blood sugar and blood pressure and may even lead to simplifying complex medication regimens. The word “instantly” provides a sense of urgency and importance to the patient as well as an immediate possible change for the better in their health, so they can begin taking appropriate steps immediately.

Even though these are simple changes to how we speak, I believe it could have significant impact on medication adherence. I know that I would feel much more inclined to take a medication if someone intentionally used me name, explained to me the why behind my treatment, emphasized the urgency, and gave me some free lifestyle changes that would improve my health. Think about which words touch you? What makes you ‘tick’? It will probably motivate people around you as well. Although communication is not the end all answer to the problem of medication adherence, It’s a hell of a start!