Shown empathy relieves pain
If an irritated or damaged sciatic nerve is the cause of the discomfort, physiotherapy and electrotherapy are used in the treatment. (Image: Kzenon / fotolia.com)
How effective is empathy in the treatment of pain?
When people suffer from pain, they are often prescribed painkillers. Researchers now found that painkillers are not always needed to help those affected. Empathetic, positive messages from doctors to their patients help alleviate the pain they suffer.
Scientists at the internationally respected University of Oxford and the University of Southampton have found in their recent research that empathy of physicians and physicians can help people with pain to reduce their pain. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal “Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine”.
When people suffer from pain, empathy from doctors and physicians can cause this pain to be reduced. (Image: Kzenon / fotolia.com)
Scientists analyzed data from more than 6,000 subjects
For their study, the physicians examined a total of 28 clinical trials, which included more than 6,000 patients. The analysis shows that treatment outcomes can be improved as physicians empathize with their patients. The studies examined dealt with the effects of empathy or positive communication in health counseling. The researchers studied the effects of empathy on pain, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis, and recovery after surgery. The physicians also looked at the impact of positive communication on quality of life and patient satisfaction based on reports from patients in these studies.
How did empathy work??
Key benefits were achieved when physicians told patients positive and reassuring messages with the intention of improving a patient’s expectations. In these studies, patients reported that they were five to 20 percent more satisfied with their treatment than those receiving standard care alone. In addition, the participants reported a slightly improved quality of life.
Is the effect clinically relevant??
In pain tests that compared the increased empathy expressed by physicians with the usual treatment, patients reported on average on a ten-point visual scale an additional pain reduction by half a point, say the experts. Although this reduction suggests that empathy has little effect on pain, it is not enough to reduce it by one or two points, suggesting that the effect is of limited clinical relevance.
Empathy can relieve pain and anxiety
Doctors can do much more than prescribe medication and other treatments to help patients with mild to moderate pain, study author Dr. Jeremy Howick from the University of Oxford. Based on the clinical trials studied, the potential for this type of intervention seems to help many general practitioners. It is clear that whether patients need medication or not, a dose of empathy can reduce their pain and reduce their anxiety, the authors of the study explain.
Further research is needed
For many of the studies studied, the quality of the evidence was relatively low and there were few studies on the subject. This means that the current conclusions could change with future investigations, Dr. Jeremy Howick. The study shows that empathy and positive verbal communication bring relatively little benefit to the patient and are unlikely to have any deleterious effects. Therefore, it is necessary to examine more closely how this benefit can be maximized. While larger, high-quality studies are needed now, the current study is an important step forward in this conceptually difficult field, adds Drs. Howick added. (As)
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