Humble doctors, healthier patients

Humble, not arrogant, physicians are most effective at working with their patients, according to a study published on Patient Education & Counseling journal by Peter M. Ruberton et al.

The study involved 297 patients across 100 physicians to investigate the relationship between physician humility, physician–patient communication, and patients’ perceptions of their health during a planned medical visit.

humble doctors have healthier patientsThe findings highlight:

  • Humble physicians were rated as communicating more effectively with their patients
  • Patients reported better health when their physicians behaved particularly humbly
  • Increasing physician humility may promote better physician–patient communication

According to Dr Robin Youngson, co-founder of the organisation Hearts in Healthcare, patients who are treated with compassion trust their doctors and are more likely to follow advice, take their medication and adopt healthy lifestyle changes, and they are less likely to need pain relief and hospital care following surgery.

Dr Youngson also points out that the more empathetic doctors were, the less likely they were to burn out. He said medical training needs to change to accommodate these realities and to teach students the skills they need to conduct empathic consultations.

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