THE DOCTOR–PATIENT RELATIONSHIP
Starting with the first interaction with the patient, the physician strives to establish and develop a professional re-lationship of mutual trust and respect. At the same time, the patient usually decides if the physician is knowledgeable and trustworthy and whether she will accept recommenda-tions that are made.
The process begins with an appropriate greeting, which may or may not include a handshake. Surnames should generally be used, because the patient–physician relation-ship, although friendly, is professional. “What brought you to the office today?” or “How may I help you today?” are neutral opening questions that allow the patient to frame a response that includes her problems, concerns, and reasons for the visit.
In the past, practitioners focused on finding the pa-tient’s problems and fixing them “for her.” Modern healthcare of women involves the patient to a much greater extent in the care process. This cooperative model is based on the fol-lowing principles:
Engagement involves forming or strengthening thephysician–patient relationship during medical encoun-ters. Engagement is achieved by using a pleasant, consis-tent tone of voice and building rapport with the patient. The goal of engagement is to form a partnership be-tween patient and physician.
Empathy occurs when a patient feels that she is beingseen, heard, and accepted for who she is. Empathy is being able to view the situation or the encounter truly from the patient’s perspective.
Educating a patient about her health care and treat-ment options permits her to make decisions based on informed consent. It also helps the patient understand the necessity of treatment interventions, which may in-crease compliance.
Enlistment is an invitation from the physician to thepatient to collaborate in care, including in the decision-making process, which may also improve compliance.
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