Understanding Relationships Between Healthcare Providers And Their Patients Are Essential For Better Health

1224 Words Oct 6th, 2014 5 Pages
INTRODUCTION
Harmonious relationships between healthcare providers and their patients are essential for better health outcomes1. Empathy is essential for meaningful relationships with patients. Healthcare providers know that “bearing with the suffering of others” is an essential part of patient care2,3. Data from cognitive neuroscience suggest that empathy incorporates both emotion sharing (automatic, bottom-up information processing) and executive control to regulate the emotional experience (top-down information processing)4. Studies have demonstrated that observing another person experience pain activates a large part of the pain matrix in the observer and this in turn could result in empathic concern and sympathy in the observer4. However, the same signals could represent a threat for the observer that could ultimately lead to personal distress5. Ironically, while empathic ability allows healthcare providers to notice the pain of their patients, this ability is also linked to the susceptibility to distress or compassion fatigue6,7. Compassion fatigue has been defined as ‘‘the formal caregiver’s reduced capacity or interest in being empathic and is ‘the natural consequent behaviors and emotions resulting from knowing about a traumatizing event experienced or suffered by a person’’7. Compassion fatigue can be seen as a form of burnout, as a secondary traumatic stress, associated with the ‘‘cost of caring’’2.
Regulatory mechanisms must operate in people who are in contact…

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