Views And Reviews

Empathy and the Practice of Medicine

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6937.1170 (Published 30 April 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1170
  1. Verna Wright

    Ed Howard Spiro, Mary G McCrea Curnen, Enid Peschel, Deborah St James Yale University Press, pounds sterling 14.95, pp 208 ISBN 0-300-05840-3

    Some time ago I conducted a study in which I asked my patients why they thought it was important for doctors to listen to their patients. More women than men thought that it was necessary to form a relationship and to enable the doctor to understand how they were feeling, whereas more men thought that it would help the doctor make the right diagnosis. Their spontaneous comments were equally revealing: “It builds up a relationship. Otherwise the patient feels unimportant, and it is not worth seeing the doctor”; “Doctors can learn more by listening than by prodding you”; “That's what he is there for”; “It would be dreadful if the doctor did not listen, it is the only way he can tell what is …

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