The importance of finding an empathetic doctor.Any online dictionary will define the term “empathy” something like this: Empathy is one’s ability to recognize, perceive, and directly feel the emotion of another. My definition is plain and simple. Empathy is the ability to put oneself into another’s shoes.
In this blog, I want to introduce you to some recent research that supports a belief that when doctors really listen to you, and can actually relate to what you are telling him or her about caring for your baby or child with reflux, you might have fewer burdens, including depression.
Just a few years ago, Dr. Emanuel and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health studied caregivers of terminally-ill patients from six cities across America. These researchers were trying to determine what burdens the caregivers and patients were experiencing. One of the things they looked at closely was depression among the caregivers. They found that caregivers of patients whose doctors listened to patients’ and caregivers’ needs had fewer burdens. In fact, 42 percent of those taking care of a patient with substantial care needs with non-empathetic doctors (the doctors did not listen to the needs and opinions of the caregiver about the patient’s illness or medical treatment) had depressive symptoms. But when the caregiver reported that the doctor they dealt with was empathetic, that number was reduced to 27 percent!
There are obviously some major differences between taking care of a terminally-ill patient and taking care of a baby with reflux, but there are also some similarities. It is no longer a secret that serious illness has an adverse effect on patients, family and friends. What we can take from this research is the fact that through empathy, physicians may be able to help you and your child.
Published On: September 15, 2006