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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: R. Waid Shelton, M.D.(University of Alabama at Birmingham)
Description: This book provides the philosophical and psychological basis for physicians' empathy with patients, instead of their previously held position of detached concern.
Purpose: The book's purpose is to present the argument that doctors can better understand and care for their patients if they are emotionally touched by those patients. The book provides a useful theoretical basis for the growing trend of physicians forming a relationship with patients, even before collecting data from them.
Audience: The audience includes those physicians who are interested in this theoretical basis, especially those whose interest is the doctor-patient relationship.
Features: The book takes the reader through the major historical positions regarding the doctor-patient relationship. A wide range of opinions are discussed. It concludes with support for the author's position that empathy with the patient improves the physician's understanding of the patient's response to his or her pathophysiology. Although two others are mentioned, the author returns frequently to one clinical case. Reference to more clinical material might have helped the reader see the author's argument from different perspectives.
Assessment: This book supplies the psychological and philosophical basis for physician empathy with the patient, a position in harmony with the recent trends of doctor-patient relationships. In doing so, it fills an important niche in our understanding of those relationships. The groundwork for the author's position is thoroughly laid out, and her arguments are convincing.