Study highlights importance of bonding, empathy in patient-physician relationships

Lack of empathy may lead to ineffective care, disregarded weight-loss counseling, and patient dissatisfaction

In a small study of 39 primary care doctors and 208 of their patients, Johns Hopkins researchers have found that physicians built much less of an emotional rapport with their overweight and obese patients than with their patients of normal weight.


Bonding and empathy are essential to the patient-physician relationship. When physicians express more empathy, studies have shown that patients are more likely to adhere to medical recommendations and respond to behavior-change counseling – all vital elements in helping overweight and obese patients lose weight and improve health.