Being Prepared Can Lead to Better Care

Kevin Kawamoto
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

You’ve probably heard this before: A person is more than a diagnosis or a disease, even though the disease may be the focus of the visit to the doctor. In these days of increasingly specialized medicine, sometimes the idea of the patient as a “whole person” can get lost in the effort to treat a specific health problem. Lab tests can detect the presence of high cholesterol, high blood glucose and abnormal liver function, among many other conditions, but they don’t provide the full picture of the person.

That’s why a psychosocial assessment is often used to capture much more of whom the person really is — certainly not a full life story, but a broader understanding of the patient or client. It is an important narrative that is usually completed by someone in the helping professions — like a social worker, a nurse or a therapist — through a sit-down interview with the patient. It’s an opportunity for the helping professional to get to know the person needing care — his or her past, present and future.

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