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Communication Vignettes
  1. Bruno Bubna-Kasteliz
  1. Dr Bruno Bubna-Kasteliz was a clinical adviser to the Health Service Ombudsman and is a retired consultant geriatrician from the West Country

Abstract

In palliative and end-of-life care, holistic patient assessment involves considering patients’ physical, psychological, social and spiritual concerns. As part of psychological assessment, it is important to discuss with patients their perception of body image and whether it is affecting their interactions with others and their ability to live their life in the way they want. In both general and palliative care, assessment of body image is a neglected area. However, such assessment is necessary so that care can be planned appropriately with the patient. Assessing body image requires sensitivity and good communication skills. Nurses’ knowledge in this area needs to be improved so that they are thinking actively of body image as a potential patient concern. This article will discuss the importance of assessing body image concerns as part of overall psychological assessment. It will provide an overview of some of the main conditions in terminal disease that can cause patients to feel distress and embarrassment. It will then explore how nurses can assess patients with regard to body image dysfunction. Conflicts of interest: none

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