Does Your Doctor Encourage You to Talk?
The practice of medicine is not just lab tests and procedures which can be invasive. There is another activity of physicians which in a way is also invasive and that activity can be communication between the patient and the doctor. The doctor, if he or she is doing their best job, should be invading the patient’s memory and emotions. This process is necessary to gain the facts but also to gain an understanding of a patient’s feelings. The process should provide a means for the patient to express and ventilate how the patient looks at their illness and prognosis and what questions the patient might have that had not been already answered by the physician. To do this effectively, the process takes time, so the doctor has to provide the time. Also the doctor needs to not only show interest in listening to the patient but talk to the patient with a empathetic understanding. And more than that, the doctor must also detect emotional opportunities and when present to communicate in a way that encourages the patient to talk about their emotions rather than the doctor listening to a few words from the patient and terminating the conversation.
As an example, physicians attending to advanced cancer patients needs to take advantage of emotional moments and promote their patients’ emotional ventilation. A recent study of oncologists and their recorded interviews with their patients found that oncologists encountered few empathic opportunities and responded with empathic statements infrequently.
A patient’s physical illness is not always simply a problem with the body but the emotions may play a big role and it is the responsibility of the doctor to care for both. Does your doctor encourage you to talk? ..Maurice.