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Engage in Small Talks with Patients

	photo of a doctor talking to a patientTalking with patients at regular visits allows HIV care providers to reinforce positive behaviors, uncover barriers to successful long-term care and treatment, and facilitate access to services and resources as patient needs change over time. A number of studies have shown that brief conversations engaging patients in care can improve health outcomes.1,2,3

Brief discussions about the importance of ongoing care present teachable moments during which health care providers can help motivate patients to continue with care and/or make positive changes to improve their care.1, 2,3 The most effective discussions are short, direct, nonjudgmental, and supportive in tone.

5 Ways to Engage in Small Talks with Patients

More effective communication helps to establish health care provider-patient trust. The following demonstrated approaches1,2,3 can help patients remain in HIV treatment and care.


Foster patient trust: Be direct, nonjudgmental, and supportive.


Use open-ended questions to involve the patient in decision making regarding their HIV treatment and overall care.


Demonstrate interest in addressing barriers to care, including structural barriers.


Help patients modify behaviors that lead to poor retention in HIV care.


Offer up-to-date information, such as the new HIV Treatment Works Website from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Learn more about how to incorporate small talks into your practice by topic area.