Doctor–patient communication critical to patient care, expectations often not met
Good communication skills can be learned and should be learned by all physicians.
A cancer diagnosis is devastating for patients, but inadequate communication with their physicians can be almost as devastating as the diagnosis itself.
Doctor–patient communication is a crucial component of all medical specialties. Cancer, along with other life-threatening diseases, often carries a stigma of painful death. Patients without the proper knowledge are affected by more than just the physical pain – they must also deal with emotional and mental effects of facing the unknown.
The lower risk for malpractice complaints is not the only benefit of good communication skills. In oncology, good physician communication has resulted in improved quality of life and decreased distress for the patients.
Good communication also improves efficiency of care and contributes to a patient’s decision to remain under a particular physician’s care.
In a survey of more than 500 oncologists, 50% admitted to having feelings of failure, guilt or disappointment when anticancer treatments fail patients, according to Baile. This relationship is stressful to physicians and patients.
Researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that patients’ anxiety is decreased after watching a video in which physicians offered even just 40 seconds of empathic behavior.
From an article by Emily Shafer, Staff Writer, Hem/Onc, April 2007
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