The simple way doctors can make their patients feel understood

How often have you gone to doctors and had the following happen: They truly listen. They ask about the worst part of your pain. They walk with you from the exam room back to the reception area.

Exactly. For most Americans, such moments are rare.

But these are some of the specific ways doctors can make a connection so that patients feel understood, according to two experts on physician empathy. The stronger that connection, the more likely patients are to take their medicine or otherwise work with their doctors, resulting in improved health….

In an interview, Epstein said that what he and Back are advocating goes beyond empathy.

“You can be empathetic without being engaged,” he said. “When a doctor says, ‘I can see how this is making you feel sad,’ that’s not implying a personal connection.” But if a doctor says, “I can only begin to imagine….,” there is a conscious change in perception.

By Lena H. Sun