A Health Affairs post points to a study that higher levels of physician empathy predicted better outcomes for diabetes patients.
A 2012 study from Italy analyzed the health outcomes of more than 20,000 patients with diabetes, who were assigned to three different groups of physicians (pre-evaluated for their levels of empathy). The physicians who demonstrated the highest degrees of empathy achieved the best results with their patients; the patients had statistically significant lower levels of diabetic complications than the groups whose physicians had scored lower in empathy.
It makes a lot of sense that this would be especially important in chronic disease management (or, recovery management) , where the goal is long term engagement to monitor their illness/recovery, support the patient through difficult behavioral changes and re-intervene quickly when symptoms recur.
Who would want to call their helper about problems in their recovery or a relapse? This isn’t an easy call to make under the best circumstances. Even more so if you don’t believe your helper understands, cares or worse, judges you. Under these circumstances the patient is more likely to put it off and put it off as the problem grows and becomes more difficult to manage.
I continue to be convinced that addiction treatment providers have a lot to learn from chronic disease management and that we have a lot of experience to offer them. This will be important to follow as the chronic disease burden continues to get more attention.