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Schwartz Center proposes agenda to promote compassionate care
Date:9/8/2011

passionate care.

The Schwartz Center's recommendations are in response to the results of a national survey of 800 patients and 510 doctors that it conducted in the fall of 2010. The survey found that only 53 percent of patients and 58 percent of doctors rate the U.S. health care system as a compassionate one, despite strong agreement among patients and doctors that compassionate care is important to successful medical treatment and can even make a difference in whether a patient lives or dies.

The survey also found that more than two-thirds of patients (67%) and more than half of doctors (55%) are concerned that the changes taking place in the U.S. health care system, including the increased emphasis on controlling costs, will affect the ability of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to provide compassionate care. At the time of the survey, more than half of the doctors surveyed (53%) said they were already spending less time with patients than they wanted.

According to the Schwartz Center, compassionate care is defined by the following four essential characteristics:

  1. Empathy, emotional support, and a desire to relieve a patient's distress and suffering
  2. Effective communication at all stages of a patient's illness and treatment
  3. Respecting patients' and families' desires to participate in making health care decisions
  4. Knowing and relating to the patient as a whole person, not just a disease

"There is a great deal of emphasis in health care these days on providing 'patient-centered' care, but care without compassion cannot truly be patient centered," said Dr. Lown, who also works as a general internist at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"Health care providers need time to listen to their patients, education in the skills of compassionate care, feedback based on measures of their performance, and leaders and systems that support healing relation
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Contact: Petra Langer
petralanger@comcast.net
781-640-0086
The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare
Source:Eurekalert

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