How Doctors Can Treat Mind and Body
From the emergency room to the operating room, medical professionals and their patients have long appreciated the importance and value of bedside manner.
Because patients are by definition in a vulnerable position when they meet with their doctor, mannerisms matter.
Although not overly time consuming, researchers recognize that physician-patient interactions are important components of the hospital experience.
Interestingly, the value of such interaction begins the moment the introduction is made.
Care Through Chemistry
Most of us form impressions immediately when we meet new people — for better or for worse. This can be particularly true in a medical setting, where patients are uncomfortable, and anxious for information.
Researchers have explored how good bedside manner impacts patient comfort, communication, and compliance with treatment.
Sophia Parnas and Sophie Isobel examined the neurobiology of bedside manner within the field of psychiatry in "Navigating the Social Synapse."
They describe a social synapse as a framework to comprehend the significance and impact of information, both verbal and non-verbal, transmitted between two individuals who are "attuned."
They explain that both cortical and subcortical networks process social information as well as the perception of safety.
They conclude that appropriate bedside manner is an important component of healthcare, described as a clinician’s ability "to navigate the social synapse and make a patient feel at ease."
In terms of the benefit, Parnas and Isobel (ibid.) explain that patients who perceive their doctor has a good bedside manner are more likely to view their treatment as effective, more likely to be treatment compliant, and more likely to experience a reduction in symptoms and improved recovery.
The Importance of Seeing Patients as Persons
Although the term is used frequently, patients can tell you exactly what bedside manner means to them, in terms of specific behaviors.
Parnas and Isobel (supra) explain that eye contact is critical, because gaze aversion may be perceived as disinterest, disengagement, or dislike, and can foster distrust.
Consequently, they caution against doctor distraction, pointing out that note-taking or working on a computer during initial encounters may detract from perceptions of safety due to averted gaze.
They also note that when a clinician feels rushed or stressed, their patients may hear it in their voice, which can detract from effective interpersonal connection.
Parnas and Isobel (supra) conclude that effective bedside manner can create a safe environment within which clinicians communicate interest and support, and signal both empathy and care.
They explain that patient interpretation and response to these signals impacts how they react to their care, and engage in treatment.
Apparently, especially in the medical profession, bedside manners matter.
Proactive patient care requires intentional communication and active listening.
Whether bearing good or bad news, cultivating chemistry and credibility impacts patient reaction, response, and recovery.
The preceding article was originally published in Psychology Today, and is used with the permission of its author.
Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, Ph.D., is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance, and style. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.