Diabetics Do Better With Empathetic Doctors

Blood sugar and cholesterol scores more likely to be good when physicians had high empathy scores, study finds

FRIDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- A doctor's empathy can improve the care of diabetes patients and should be considered an important part of being a good doctor, according to a new study.

The study included 891 diabetes patients treated between July 2006 and June 2009 by 29 doctors at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. The researchers assessed the doctors' level of empathy for patients, while the quality of patient care was determined by an LDL ("bad") cholesterol test and a hemoglobin A1C test for blood glucose levels.

Patients whose doctors had high empathy scores were more likely to have good control of their blood sugar and low LDL cholesterol levels than patients whose doctors had low empathy scores.

The results indicate that empathy on the part of doctors can contribute to patient satisfaction, trust and compliance with therapy.

"Our results show that physicians with high empathy scores had better clinical outcomes than other physicians with lower scores," study author Mohammadreza Hojat, research professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Jefferson Medical College, said in a university news release.

"These findings, if confirmed by larger scale research, suggest that empathy should be viewed as an integral component of a physician's competence," he concluded.

The study is in the March issue of the journal Academic Medicine.

More information

The American College of Physicians has more about living with diabetes.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Thomas Jefferson University, news release, March 7, 2011

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