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Practical Solutions to Patient Boundaries

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The Practical Solutions to Patient Boundaries active learning module (ALM) aims to support medical practitioners to explore optimal frameworks for the doctor–patient relationship and to further develop skills and understandings in maintaining clear boundaries with patients. The ALM content is highly case-based and very interactive and will be delivered in a supportive and collegial environment to facilitate participant engagement with this challenging and often quite personal and/or sensitive subject. 

The ALM provides a rare and valuable opportunity in Australia for doctors to review their relationships with patients (which is a professional duty according to the Medical Board of Australia's and Australian Medical Council's Code of Conduct) and learn how to strengthen therapeutic partnerships with patients. It will assist doctors to be aware of common boundary difficulties, recognise the early warning signs of boundary problems, and to build skills to address boundary challenges and effectively manage boundaries in general. Risk management strategies are directly addressed in detail.


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Pre activity

Questionnaire includes following exercises 1. Identify learning objectives that are personally most important 2. Case study on treating employees/fellow staff 3. Questions that promote consideration of personal behaviours, skills, attitudes, knowledge and systems 4. Active information search activity in which participants look up their medical college's views on boundaries and compare it to the Medical Board of Australia's guidelines 5. Participants choose to read one of three related articles

Post activity

Questionnaire includes following exercises: 1.Some questions (on behaviours, attitudes, skills, systems and knowledge) that are identical to those in the pre-workshop activity to evaluate the impact of the education 2. New questions relating to knowledge 3. Mini case study 4. Listing of key points that participants will include in their practice manual section on patient boundaries 5. Reflection on the commitment to practice change that they made at the end of the workshop

Learning objective

By the end of this activity participants should be able to:

  • List warning signs that boundaries may be vulnerable.
  • Describe strategies to use within each consult that minimise the risks of boundary crossings and misunderstandings of a sexual nature.
  • Outline how being involved in a dual relationship with a patient may adversely impact the therapeutic relationship.
  • Describe communication strategies to set boundaries with patients.
  • Outline policies to include in the practice manual that support clear and mutually recognised boundaries.
  • Explain the process for ending the doctor–patient relationship.
  • Discuss principles that guide professional physical contact with patients.
  • Summarise the unique issues of working in a rural environment in relation to maintaining professional boundaries with patients.
  • Discuss the issues to consider when approached for medical service or advice from a family member.
Practical Solutions to Patient Boundaries
Provider Type
Education Provider
8 hours
Start Date
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