What does compassion sound like?

“Good to see you. I’m sorry. It sounds like you’ve had a tough, tough, week.” Spoken by a doctor to a cancer patient, that statement is an example of compassionate behavior observed by a University of Rochester Medical Center team in a new study published by the journal Health Expectations.

Rochester researchers believe they are the first to systematically pinpoint and catalogue compassionate words and actions in doctor-patient conversations. By breaking down the dialogue and studying the context, scientists hope to create a behavioral taxonomy that will guide medical training and education.

 

“In health care, we believe in being compassionate but the reality is that many of us have a preference for technical and biomedical issues over establishing emotional ties,” said senior investigator Ronald Epstein, M.D., professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Oncology, and Nursing and director of the UR Center for Communication and Disparities Research.