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Are doctors who have been ill more compassionate? Attitudes of resident physicians regarding personal health issues and the expression of compassion in clinical care.

Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.
Psychosomatics (Impact Factor: 1.67). 07/2011; 52(4):367-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.psym.2011.01.042
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Compassion is an attribute central to professionalism and modern clinical care, yet little is known about how compassion is acquired and preserved in medical training. We sought to understand whether personal illness experiences are thought by residents to foster compassion.
The authors surveyed 155 (71% response rate) second- and third-year residents at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine regarding their views of the relationship of personal life experience with illness to compassion and empathy for patients.
Residents believe that experience with personal health issues enhances physician compassion for patients. Residents who report more personal health concerns, such as physical or mental health problems and family health problems, endorse the connection between direct experience with illness and empathy.
Health care trainees' own illness experiences may increase compassionate patient care practices and foster empathy.

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