Thursday Review: “Role of narrative-based medicine in proper patient assessment”

Pain management in cancer patients is a good opportunity to examine how medicine can be both humane and effective,1 writes Giovanni Rosti.

Rosti constantly balances medicine’s outcomes with its humanity. A medical outcome can easily skew towards numbers and raw data. That emphasis can quickly become efficacy to the point of ruthlessness. Medicine’s humanity constantly reminds us that individuals are being treated, and not just patients.

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Thursday Review: “The Meaning Of Healing: Transcending Suffering”

I enjoy work like Thomas R. Egnew’s article, published in The Annals of Family Medicine. Egnew asks a simple but profound question, and the answers open up new avenues for understanding the role storytelling plays in a medical relationship.

If healing is a part of medicine, why is there no operational definition of healing, nor … any explanation of its mechanisms?
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Thursday Review: “Physician Burnout and Patient-Physician Communication During Primary Care Encounters”

This November, the Thursday Reviews will be dedicated to some of the literature available on Resilience and Burnout. We’ll be examining how storytelling and narrative are essential to healthcare providers’ well-being.

Nov. 2 | Nov. 9 | Nov. 16 | Wed., Nov. 22 | Nov. 30

The Quiet Burnout Bombshell

One of the major ideas behind medical storytelling is that better physician-patient communication yields better results.1 Writing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Dr. Neda Ratanawongsa, Dr. Debra Roter, Dr. Mary Catherine Beach, Shivonne L. Laird, Susan M. Larson, Kathryn A. Carson, and Dr. Lisa A. Cooper make a completely rational assumption:

[W]e hypothesized that professional burnout would diminish physicians’ inclination or ability to engage in rapport-building with their patients during routine medical visits. As secondary outcomes, we hypothesized that higher levels of burnout would be associated with less positive affect by physicians and patients, less patient-centeredness, shorter visit lengths, greater verbal dominance by physicians, and more negative patient ratings of satisfaction, trust, and confidence in their physicians.

It’s a kind of quiet bombshell, then, that after a survey of physician and patient interactions, no differences were evident in the rapport-building behaviors of physicians relative to their burnout scores.
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