Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Acting Techniques May Help Doctors Empathize With Their Patients

Date:
March 14, 2005
Source:
University Of Washington
Summary:
Business scholars for more than 20 years have explored the concept of 'emotional labor,' or the management of emotions to present a certain image in service workers. Now, researchers from the University of Washington Business School and Group Health Cooperative have teamed up to explore how the concept can be applied to the medical profession.

Business scholars for more than 20 years have explored the concept of 'emotional labor,' or the management of emotions to present a certain image in service workers. Now, researchers from the University of Washington Business School and Group Health Cooperative have teamed up to explore how the concept can be applied to the medical profession.

"We propose that the emotional labor of physicians is characterized by the display of empathy," said Dr. Eric B. Larson, director of Group Health's Center for Health Studies and co- author of a commentary in the March 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Empathy is essential to healing relationships, so it's something all health professionals should be expected to show – even when it's hard to do so."

Drawing from previous research that equates service workers' labor to the work of stage actors, Larson and co-author Xin Yao, a doctoral student in the UW Business School, describe a model for applying acting techniques to the delivery of empathy in doctor-patient interactions. They suggest that doctors use two techniques separately or in combination – 'deep acting,' which uses imagination and emotional memories to generate genuine feelings of empathy for the patient, and 'surface acting,' in which the doctor forges emotional expressions inconsistent with internal feelings. This would allow the doctor to display behaviors the patient can interpret as empathic.

The authors contend that deep acting is preferred because it makes doctors more effective healers. They also believe doctors have greater professional satisfaction and less professional burnout when they practice deep acting, but may have to rely on surface acting when genuine empathy seems impossible. Surface acting may be needed, for example, in situations in which the doctor's values or beliefs are entirely different from the patient's.

"We suggested viewing physician empathy as emotional labor and how doctors can achieve empathy through acting," said Yao, who did the work for her doctoral dissertation. "Thus, by learning about and consciously engaging oneself in deep acting and surface acting, physicians can be more prepared to meet patients' needs."

The authors say doctors need to recognize that their work has an element of emotional labor and to consciously practice deep and surface acting to empathize with their patients. They also recommend long-term, regular training to help doctors develop empathy.

"This will be valuable for both physicians and patients facing the increasingly fragmented and technological world of modern medicine," they write.

"For patients, our message is that it's reasonable to expect physicians to show empathy," said Larson. "It's part of the physician's job."

Larson also urged healthcare consumers to seek long-term, continuous relationships with physicians they like.

"The better the physician knows you, the easier it is to develop an empathic, healing relationship."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Washington. "Acting Techniques May Help Doctors Empathize With Their Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050309103741.htm>.
University Of Washington. (2005, March 14). Acting Techniques May Help Doctors Empathize With Their Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050309103741.htm
University Of Washington. "Acting Techniques May Help Doctors Empathize With Their Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050309103741.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins