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How to preserve empathy in medicine

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How to preserve empathy in medicine

"No matter how extensive or well-developed your capacity for empathy may be, you cannot feel empathy for everyone all the time. Whether we’re talking about doctors who have never been…
November 19, 2021

How to preserve empathy in medicine

“No matter how extensive or well-developed your capacity for empathy may be, you cannot feel empathy for everyone all the time. Whether we’re talking about doctors who have never been patients, or clinicians who have never faced discrimination, we know that people’s ideas can change, when properly educated and supported.

In a randomized, controlled trial, one of the most exciting findings within my own research into the malleability of empathy looked at physicians of six different medical and surgical specialties. Using the E.M.P.A.T.H.Y.(R) acronym and other techniques, physicians learned how to accurately “read” their patients’ states of emotion and respond more empathically. Post-intervention, the training group received significantly higher patient satisfaction scores than the control group.

The good news about our research is that it showed that we can be hopeful about changing the culture of medicine. We now have evidence-based tools to accomplish this. There is hope for a brighter future in health care and all relationships when empathic principles are learned and practiced at the local, regional, and societal levels.”

Helen Riess is a psychiatrist and author of The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences.

She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, “How to preserve empathy in medicine.” (https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2021/10/how-to-preserve-empathy-in-medicine.html)

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