Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Here, have a glass of water

The issue of doctors being able to help with emotional issues of health has been a problem for as long as I can remember over the years I've been in the healthcare industry, some 35+ years.

I'd guess thirty years ago the idea of including this sort of class in medical school curriculum was raised. I see that's all that happened.

No wonder I hear so many hooror stories from my clients and others who participate in or attend my classes or community progrmas.

Before I worked in critical care I was working in mental health and psychiatry. I really never left that field in the sense that I integrated it into my work with very sick and dying people in ICU and the staff where I worked.

Sometimes I was ridiculed by peers, but often thanked by others, especially family members and patients.

Maybe the docs who can't find the time or don't want to deal with this part of medicine are missing core issues. Patch Adams had something going.

Healing is an art. It may or may not be driven by science. There is the physical part of it and the mental. Those don't get us where we need to be without the emotional and spiritual levels of healing that must be addressed if health care is to be effective.

Physicians Often Miss Opportunities To Show Empathy, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (2008-09-23) -- In consultations with patients with lung cancer, physicians rarely responded empathically to the concerns of the patients about mortality, symptoms or treatment options, according to a new study. The study found that physicians missed many opportunities to recognize and possibly ease the concerns of their patients and routinely provided little emotional support. ... > read full article

Emotional Intelligence Training Could Lead to Better Doctor-Patient Relations
Caroline Cassels
Medscape Medical News 2008. © 2008 Medscape

September 22, 2008 — Integrating emotional intelligence (EI) training into graduate medical education may improve young physicians' interpersonal and communication skills and ultimately create a more caring environment for patients.

In the September 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a commentary by medical educators Daisy Grewal, PhD, and Heather Davidson, PhD, from Stanford University Medical Center, suggests there is a need to add such training, which includes both interpersonal and communication skills, to graduate medical education.

"The current medical education literature has focused primarily on communication skills, most likely because they are easier to define and observe than interpersonal skills. The value of communication skills is supported by continuing evidence that physician-patient communication affects a variety of important factors associated with positive health outcomes," they write.

According to Drs. Grewal and Davidson, the 4 components of emotional intelligence — the abilities to perceive, use, understand, and manage emotions — are building blocks for interpersonal and communication skills. The challenge in medical education is to understand the psychology behind these skills and build programs to develop them.

"The EI framework has the potential to deepen understanding about the set of factors that are related to acquisition of effective interpersonal and communication skills — skills that rest on the ability to perceive, use, understand, and manage emotions in self and others," they write.

A Concept Worth Exploring

Currently, many graduate medical education programs use self-assessments, which tend to rely on students' perceptions of their own personalities. Objectively evaluating physicians' EI could help give medical trainees a more objective assessment of their skills, the authors note.

Future research, they suggest, could link EI measurements with performance evaluations. For instance, graduate students who score low in 1 or a combination of abilities might benefit from targeted training.

Drs. Grewal and Davidson note that not all educators agree on the value of EI.

"Clearly, the concept of EI needs further development; popular conceptions have added confusion to the definition and measurement of this complex concept. However, EI should not be dismissed simply because of this complexity," they write.

Some research shows that EI training in medical schools has improved empathy and "soft" skills, suggesting that the right kind of training might help those who are not natural communicators to learn and develop their abilities.

"Emotional intelligence is a concept worth further exploration in medical education and may be one of several important theories that help move the culture of medical education ahead by creating a better learning, working, and caring environment," the authors conclude.

JAMA. 2008;12:1200-1202. Abstract

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