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Study: Empathy gets better results than no empathy

Article

Smiling at and making eye contact with your patients could make them healthier.

Smiling at and making eye contact with your patients could make them healthier. A study from Thomas Jefferson University Jefferson Medical College found that patients with empathetic doctors had better controlled their diabetes than those with less empathetic physicians.

The 29 physicians in the study were ranked on the Jefferson Scale of Empathy. Those with higher scores had more patients with good control of hemoglobin A1c and LDL cholesterol levels. The study concluded that physician empathy was a "unique and significant contributor" to the prediction of good control among the nearly 900 patients studied.

Empathy has been linked to patient satisfaction, but this is one of the first studies to tie it to clinical outcomes.

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health