5 strategies to improve the patient-physician relationship

Listening carefully and taking note of social cues are two key ways in which providers can improve their relationships with their patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers conducted a mixed-methods study that involved a systematic literature review of 73 studies; observations of 27 primary care encounters at three healthcare clinics; and qualitative interviews with 10 physicians, 27 patients and 30 nonmedical professionals whose occupations involve intense interactions with people, such as firefighters.

Researchers identified the following five practices that could enhance physician presence and establish a meaningful connection between physicians and their patients:

1. Take a moment to prepare for the visit and focus before greeting a patient.
2. Listen intently and avoid interruptions.
3. Find out what the patient cares about and incorporate these priorities into the conversation during the visit.
4. Connect with the patient's story and consider life circumstances that influence the patient's health, while celebrating successes.
5. Explore emotional cues and validate the patient's emotions.

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