Empathy in Clinicians can Promote Cancer Patient Health

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A study conducted by Rutgers University, written about by ScienceDaily.com, found that oncology doctors who exhibit more empathy help promote better psychological health in breast cancer patients. Effective communication by healthcare providers plays a crucial role in reducing uncertainty and, consequently, contributes to patients’ psychological well-being. Discussing uncertainties with empathy is vital for healing and recovery. The study’s findings have direct implications for communication training for healthcare providers, highlighting the importance of empathic communication in enhancing patient experiences. Breast cancer patients are at significant risk of experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms related to their diagnosis. The research also explored how the process of managing psychological well-being differs between patients currently undergoing treatment and those who have completed their treatments. While the findings applied to both groups, the relationship between uncertainty and psychological adjustment was stronger for former patients, emphasizing the need for ongoing focus on uncertainty and psychological health in breast cancer monitoring beyond the initial diagnosis and treatment phases. The study involved online surveys with current and former breast cancer patients, assessing their perceptions of oncologists’ communication and how they cope with the illness. It underscores the clinician’s role in helping patients manage both their physical and emotional health after a breast cancer diagnosis.

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