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20.03.2012


Empathetic doctors have higher cure rate

If you ever get so ill that your life is in the hands of a doctor, make sure you get a doctor who gives the impression of being committed. According to health researchers at the University of Wisconsin, committed doctors are better healers than the highly-strung white-jacketed variety with their eye on the clock the whole time.


Empathetic doctors have higher cure rate


Study
In 2009 the researchers published in Family Medicine the results of a study in which they followed 348 patients who were all suffering from a cold. The patients had visited a doctor, and afterwards the researchers measured the patients' experience of how involved or empathetic their doctor was. The researchers asked the patients whether the doctor had reassured them, let them talk, listened to them, shown empathy, explained well and of course what the doctor had done to treat the patient's illness.

Eighty-four patients gave their doctor the maximum score [Perfect score/Perfect CARE]. The remaining 264 doctors didn't make the grade [Non-perfect score/Sub-perfect CARE].

Results
The doctors with the maximum score turned out to be better healers: their patients had recovered after seven days on average. The patients of the less committed doctors took a day longer to get better. In addition, it seemed that patients of committed doctors were less affected by the symptoms of their viral infection.

The table below is simplified. Click on it for a full version.


Empathetic doctors have higher cure rate


Empathetic doctors have higher cure rate


The researchers suspect that the immune system plays a key role in the healing capacities of sympathetic doctors. They found more interleukine-8 in the nose of patients with a empathetic doctor than in the nose of patients with a low-score doctor.

Interleukine-8 is an inflammatory protein that plays a role in the body's natural resistance system. It stimulates immune cells to make their way to a location in the body where pathogens are trying to enter.

Source:
Fam Med. 2009 Jul-Aug;41(7):494-501.

More:
Warmth and competence enhance placebo effect 25.09.2017
Because books promote empathy, reading them maken you live longer 21.11.2016
Words of encouragement make you stronger and fitter 03.07.2012

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