Now here’s a shocker for you!


According to an article from HealthDay, published in today’s Washington Post, “Doctors are missing their cues when it comes to opportunities to empathize with the plight of their cancer patients, a new study suggests.”

According to this study by Morse et al., just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, doctors are able to address such concerns as medication issues, missed appointments, or pain, but they aren’t so good at dealing with questions about life and death, which are of paramount importance to most cancer patients.

This study (which dealt specifically with lung cancer patients) was also covered in a story in USA Today. The report comes as no surprise to anyone who has spent a while in the cancer world. What is surprising is that so many physicians who go into cancer care don’t get more and better training about how to deal with this issue, which is so fundamental to how most of us respond when faced with a cancer diagnosis (or a relapse after succesful first-line therapy).

It’s high time this issue got remedied!

2 Responses

  1. This seems to be working against both the patients and the doctors. How do we change the dynamic? Should we even bother or is it a lost cause? I started two discussions on the social network based on information from this article.

  2. We define empathy as — the capacity to hold in conscious awareness the thoughts and feelings of the other — while remaining open to your own thoughts and feelings. This capacity can be cultivated through mindful awareness and the intention/willingness to “feel” while remaining present and connected. Empathy is one of the dynamics found in compassion and we can train our caregivers to become more compassionate.

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