Listen up, doc: Empathy raises patients’ pain tolerance

A doctor-patient relationship built on trust and empathy doesn’t justput patients at ease – it actually changes the brain’s response to stress and increases pain tolerance, according to new findings from an MSU research team.


“We need to do more research to understand this mechanism,” he said, “but this is a good first step that puts some scientific weight behind the case for empathizing with patients, getting to know them and building trust.”


Published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling, the study was part of a broader effort at MSU, led by professor of medicine Robert Smith, to establish standards for patient-centered health care and measure its effectiveness.


Contact(s): Andy McGlashen , Issidoros Sarinopoulos