The Opposite of Compassion in Healthcare

In this episode of Leading with Health, I explore the impact of disbelieving or devaluing a patient’s experience. This is the opposite of compassion in healthcare. In particular, I contrast this with new evidence showing the positive impact on patient outcomes that comes from providers showing compassion.

Highlights include:

2:25 – JM: “We have gotten so cerebral in our approach to healthcare that a lot of us do need to see in very clear black and white letters that compassion makes a difference.”

3:10 – Compassion shown by a physician specifically saying, “I can understand how that must be affecting you” can reduce low back pain and irritable bowel syndrome. Source: Compassionomics by Anthony Mazzarelli and Stephen Trzeciak

4:30 – JM: “What happens when we mirror disbelief to someone coming to us for care? What happens as a patient if we go in and are greeted with disbelief?

5:00 – JM: “We have to believe that we have value as a person in order to feel valued and safe.”

5:10 – JM: “People believe they have value because of the response they get. Babies believe that they are valued because somebody smiles at them or responds when they cry.”

8:08 – JM: “If we are trying to ‘do no harm’ in the world of healthcare, how damaging is it to greet someone who is suffering with disbelief?

8:28 – JM: “If these studies show that just saying ‘I can understand’ is so helpful, what is the damage of dismissing someone and saying it’s all in their head?”

8:45 – JM: “Think about how damaging it is to go through a trauma and be greeted with lack of belief.”

9:43 – JM: “Trauma isn’t just the event, it’s the response you get after the event and in trying to communicate the event.

10:56 – JM: “People who have been treated with love and who are valued are light-years away from understanding the experience of people who haven’t been, and vice-versa. And either of them could be a patient. Either of them could be the doctor or the nurse. And it becomes very hard to communicate.”

14:22 – JM: “We need to start thinking that ‘do no harm’ isn’t just about treatment. It’s about how we interrelate with people.

14:35 – JM: “Believing a patient’s pain has value is not just nice to have, it’s essential to their treatment and their outcome.

Leading with Health is hosted by Jennifer Michelle. Jennifer has a Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology and is a certified EMT. As President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, Jennifer specializes in healthcare marketing. She is on a mission to help women find their voice so they can create a stronger, more responsive healthcare system.