From the annual meeting of the North American Primary Care Research Group in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico:
I’d like to think that all physicians care about their patients, but perhaps the patients don’t always get that message. According to one researcher at this meeting, people who perceived that their doctors were more supportive and caring had significantly shorter colds and significantly less severe symptoms (after controlling for those pesky confounding variables) compared with patients who rated their doctors lower on an empathy scale.
The results are still being analyzed, but the impact of a caring doctor was more than skin deep–higher empathy scores also were significantly associated with higher levels of the immune system biomarker IL-8.
These results may or may not be applicable to other illnesses. But for doctors, the implication may be that their patients will benefit on many levels if they make a more obvious effort to be supportive. For patients, it may reflect the importance of having a good rapport with your doctor, or at least believing that you do.