Empathy creates better outcomes – study shows

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

empathy in medicine 150x150Empathy Creates Measurably Better Outcomes

Academic Medicine recently reported the results of a three year study of 891 diabetic patients treated by 20 different family physicians.

The study measured two metabolic markers

hemoglobin A1c and LDL-C

And ranked the Physicians Empathy levels on the Jefferson Scale of Empathy into high, moderate, and low empathy scoring groups.

Patients of physicians with high empathy scores were significantly more likely to have good control of hemoglobin A1c (56%) than were patients of physicians with low empathy scores (40%, P < .001).

Similarly, the proportion of patients with good LDL-C control was significantly higher for physicians with high empathy scores (59%) than physicians with low scores (44%, P < .001).

Logistic regression analyses indicated that physicians’ empathy had a unique contribution to the prediction of optimal clinical outcomes after controlling for physicians’ and patients’ gender and age, and patients’ health insurance.

Reminds me of the old saying, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

What this study didn’t measure was the physician’s level of satisfaction on the job as it relates to the three stratified empathy groups. My hypothesis is that the doctors who care more and whose patients respond better … well they are flat out happier than the folks in the low empathy, poorly responding patient group.

Please put your thoughts as a comment below and let’s discuss!!

Here’s a link to the full abstract