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Can Clinician Empathy Affect Chronic Pain?


A clinician's empathy during a clinic encounter with a person with chronic pain can have a statistically significant impact on outcomes, a new study found.

"Although there is no agreement on how to define or study empathy, empathic opportunities arising during medical encounters may be missed, thereby posing a threat to the patient-physician relationship."

A new study of individuals with chronic lower back pain examined whether the perception of a clinician's level of empathy would be correlated with the amount of pain, disability, and impairment in function they experience.

Typically studies of physician empathy rely on observational research in a clinic setting and involve physician self assessed empathy or patient perceived empathy. The current study used the Consultation and Relational Empathy (CARE) measure, recognized as the "primary patient rating instrument for physician empathy," based on demonstrated reliability and internal validity and consistency.

The slide show here presents the study findings - click through to find out how the CARE measure performed.

Source: Licciardone JC, Tran Y, Ngo K, et al. Physician empathy and chronic pain outcomes. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(4):e246026. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.6026

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