Deficit perspectives are sneaky. Maybe the better word is ‘insidious.’ They can worm their way quietly into our work. And when there, they do real damage.
Maybe you’ve heard the term.
If not, it’s a tendency to maintain a focus on negative instances, examples, or qualities. Like seeing patients as passive recipients. Or centering on what a patient doesn’t understand, or doesn’t do; what a patient’s situation lacks; what is seems his or her community can’t provide. Or focusing on negative results, effects, examples, depictions, or instances.
You might think of it as the sometimes-subtle difference between trying to solve a problem for a patient or client, and seeing that person as a problem (or a collection of problems). This difference makes a difference in multiple outcomes, as you’ll learn below.
I’ve been keeping an eye on deficit perspectives in education for more than a decade, and more recently, in the health sector. Here are 4 short podcast episodes I hope might be helpful to you, if you are interested in noticing and disrupting any deficit perspectives in your work. They’re from our series “10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication,” and all of them deal with the deficit perspective.
The research examples focus on clinical medicine, medical education, and public health, but the lessons apply no matter what your role. They’re in audio format here (as podcasts). You can listen to the episodes right on this page, or click on the links to listen, read the transcript, download, and subscribe.
Here’s one important change you can make right now that will help you resist a deficit perspective AND improve your patient education in the process. And it has to do with how you handle your professional knowledge in the patient/client encounter.
Patients and clients can be framed or positioned in negative ways by research, theories, policies, or everyday taken-for-granted arrangements in an organization. That’s why it’s important to keep these two things in mind.
You’ll learn just how common deficit perspectives are in health care research, policy, and practice. At the end, I give you two things you can do to turn away from a deficit perspective in your everyday work.
This episode connects the deficit perspective to health disparities. And it’ll help you improve your communication, even when your patients or clients don’t talk like you do.
Addressing Implicit Bias Audiobook Bundle
This bundle of audiobook, eBook, and supplementary materials will help you address unconscious or implicit bias in your language. No matter your specialization or patient population. You get practical, culturally and linguistically relevant advice and research-based tools, in an unfussy, conversational format.