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Revista Brasileira de Educação Médica

Print version ISSN 0100-5502


COSTA, Fabrício Donizete da  and  AZEVEDO, Renata Cruz Soares de. Empathy, the physician-patient relationship, and medical training: a qualitative view. Rev. bras. educ. med. [online]. 2010, vol.34, n.2, pp.261-269. ISSN 0100-5502.

The physician-patient relationship (PPR) extends beyond the specific clinical encounter between two individuals, involving more than asking questions, performing a physical examination, and prescri bing medication and personal care. Studies suggest that the PPR is a mixture of technical and personal skills. Given the unpleasantness of homogenized clinical approaches that ignore each individual's in trinsically personal nature, empathy emerges as a diametrically opposed approach capable of fostering important progress in the PPR. In the clinical context, empathy refers to the physician's sensitivity towards the changes that are felt by and reflected in the patient, moment by moment. The meaning of empathy is probably best expressed in the famous quote by Ambroise Paré: "Cure occasionally, relieve often, console always." If empathy can enhance medical practice, one should consider the possibility of teaching how to be empathetic or discussing the importance of empathy from the perspective of medical professors. The current article thus takes a qualitative approach to empathy and its impor tance in the PPR for training new physicians at a public university, while specifically discussing the possibility of teaching empathy.

Keywords : Empathy; Physician Patient Relationship; Medical Education; Qualitative research.

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