Empathizing with Patients Worldview

All psychological interventions depend on the patient feeling understood by the physician. Listening and reflecting back the problems identified by the patient while empathizing with the patient's worldview can be extremely helpful in management. For example, an avoidant patient may refuse a prostate examination while having complaints of urinary hesitation and dribbling. The physician could say:

I understand your wish to avoid dealing with this problem. The testing—a blood test, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and a rectal examination—take only a few minutes and are not terribly uncomfortable. I am not trying to criticize you. I just think it is in your interest to get these examinations. Could we do this today? Then we can plan a way to relieve your symptoms.

A patient may be certain there is a medical cause of pain. Empathy can be shown by performing a detailed physical exam; often the physical touch allows the patient to feel that the physician is taking him seriously.

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