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Negative Interaction between Doctor and Patient Makes Patient Worse

Date:2015-02-12 click:
If doctors communicate inadvertently with the patients that they do not believe or understand, the patients’ symptoms could become worse, according to a new study.
 
In this research, five women with chronic wide-spread pain were recorded and analyzed when they were asking help from the healthcare workers. They said they felt abandoned and disbelieved when the healthcare workers didn’t give them any exam or show any concern on their situation. They said they felt hopeless and angry and an increased need to justify their condition or to avoid particular doctors or treatment altogether. While at the same time, the workers also complained about the patients who didn’t believe their diagnosis.  
 
Lead author Maddy Greville-Harris, from the University of Southampton, said: "Our work indicates that the effects of patients feeling that their doctor doesn't believe or understand them can be damaging both emotionally and physiologically. This could lead to worsening of illness, known as the 'nocebo response'. Patients bring certain beliefs and expectations to their health care professional. Their expectations will undoubtedly affect the outcome, but improving communication in consultations could make a big difference to patient care. This is a small study, and more research is needed on a larger scale."  
 
In fact, the team's earlier research has shown that people who feel disbelieved can lead to increased anger and stress – and that this was much more powerful than positive reinforcement, which provides some evidences for this research in fact. 
 
We have found that patients can perceive whether their doctors believe or understand them or not, even when the doctor is trying to be comforting. Comments such as 'there's no physiological reason that you're experiencing pain' seek to reassure, but can be perceived as patronising or disbelieving. 
 
This study is really about humanity in healthcare. Even though it still requires more detailed research, to be good and professional, doctors need to be more patient, and pay more attention to their patients. It’s of great importance to be an effective communicator when interacting with patients. 
 
But for patients, it’s very common for us to be scared and worried when feeling sick, but we need to have faith in our doctor, and do not doubt the diagnosis all the time, as it does no good for ourselves. As long as we try to understand each other, I guess the problem will be easier. 



 

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