Positive Communication in Health and Wellness

February 28, 2013

Editors: Margaret J. Pitts and Thomas J. Socha
Edition: First
Publisher: Peter Lang
Pages: 351
Price: £86.00 and £23.00
ISBN: 9781433114465 and 14458

Much has already been written about the efficacy of communication in a healthcare setting to improve satisfaction for both patients and healthcare workers, boost health outcomes and reduce litigation around malpractice; but this book presents us with a different view of communication that suggests that positive communication can be a therapeutic tool in itself.

Positive communication goes beyond the notion that effective communication is a neutral process. It suggests that positive communication can bring about happiness, health and well-being

This volume considers the effects of communication on the individual, the group and the institution in which it is practised to give a many-layered perspective and to offer another dimension to the topic by focusing our attention on what works well, rather than on what does not. The editors propose that we recognise the positive emotions, characteristics and experiences in a person instead of concentrating solely on their illness or difficulties - in other words, the negatives in their lives.

The notion of positive communication emerges from the theoretical stable of “positive psychology” that began in the US in the 1990s. The goal of positive communication is, as this book describes it, to “inspire people to achieve higher moments, greater good and to act selflessly”. I must admit that I began reading Positive Communication in Health and Wellness with a particularly cynical eye, but I warmed to the topic and found it to be a refreshing and inspiring read. An alternative title for the book could easily be In Pursuit of Happiness, for positive communication goes beyond the notion that effective communication is a neutral process that acts as a conduit for building relationships or for giving or gathering information, to suggest that positive communication can bring about happiness, health and well-being in a range of settings.

The editors bring together chapters by a range of authors that look at such diverse topics as communication with children with mental health issues; recovering alcoholics and women with breast cancer; relationships between friends and loved ones; end-of-life issues; conversations in emergency medicine; and the benefits of positive communication in journalism and education.

All are evidence-based and well-grounded in the literature, albeit quite US focused.

I particularly enjoyed reading about the use of humour in the healthcare setting, and about end-of-life conversations.

Who is it for?
This book would appeal to communication students, teachers, academics and researchers as well as healthcare students and practitioners.

Presentation:
The text is dense in places and the writing uses a lot of value-laden language. However, in the main it provides a good splicing- together of a range of ideas, concepts and research results that are interesting and informative.

Would you recommend it?
Yes, to those who would like to explore another perspective in an area of communication that is expanding.

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