Case vignette

A strength-based approach to patient care.

Inclusive Language Illustration

A strength-based approach to patient care.

A clinician focuses on their patient’s humanity by asking them to highlight their unique strengths and skills, not just their diseases or problems.

Clinician

Hi Jeremiah, nice to see you again. How has the treatment plan felt for you since we last spoke? I know last time we met there was a lot of information to take in with a new diabetes diagnosis.

Jeremiah

Yeah… I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed by it all.

Clinician

I’m sorry to hear that. A lot of patients I work with struggle getting into a routine initially. Are there parts of the treatment plan that have felt particularly hard or easy to manage?

Jeremiah

The diet component has been challenging because I’ve been doing a lot of reading and the food I usually eat is what I’m supposed to be avoiding. I was able to start walking like you suggested. I decided to walk my daughter to school and that has been great.

Clinician

I’m glad to hear the walking has gone well. It also sounds like you have really gone over the information I gave you which is a great place to start. Are there any foods on the list that you’re already eating?

Jeremiah

Well, it said to eat protein and I think I make a good amount of meat, but the list said fresh fruits and vegetables and I mostly eat canned produce.

Clinician

It sounds like you’re doing a great job. While fresh fruits and vegetables are amazing, the canned fruits and vegetables provide you with plenty of nutrients. Meat is an excellent source of protein. I can see how dedicated you are to your health. Do you think you would be interested in any other resources, like a cooking class, to help support you in navigating this journey?

Jeremiah

Yes, that sounds like something that would be really helpful. My daughter would probably even want to join me. She’s been wanting to learn more about how to help me manage my health, too.

Clinician

Wonderful, having social support that understands how to help you is really important. I will get a list of local options that both you and your support people may be interested in.

Jeremiah

Clinician

Jeremiah

Clinician

Jeremiah

Things to consider.

01

When utilized appropriately, strengths-based care encourages health care providers to get the full picture of a patient's story. This facilitates personalized, whole-person care that does not ignore the sociopolitical context of where they work and live. 

02

While you may remind clients of various strengths and resources they have, the best approach is to give them space to identify their protective factors independently while offering collaboration as needed. 

Question to think about:

What are some of your own strengths when facing difficult circumstances? In what ways have power and privilege, or disadvantage, helped shape these strengths?

Ask for pronouns
Ask how the patient is doing
Ask for consent before touching
All of the above