Good bedside manner plays as important role in the recovery of patients as medicines
By Z. A. Naqvi
‘YOU will get well soon’. Nothing is more comforting than these words for a patient from the mouth of a doctor. But, if the doctor is not careful in choosing his/her words there must be an adverse effect on the patient.
A sympathetic bedside manner is as important for patients as medicines because it helps them to set aside their worries and consequently boosts the chances of their recovery.
When doctors’ words create a negative impression for patients, there are chances that patients experience the nausea, headaches, fatigue or diarrhea. Experiments have proved that simply warning patients about certain side-effects and telling them only about dangerous aspects of their diseases can actually make patients more likely to experience the above mentioned health complications.
Dr SyedShah H. Jafri in Edison, New Jersey, is of the opinion that sympathetic words and optimistic behavior of doctors can help heal the body. He says patients want to listen to their doctors saying that they will get well soon, no matter how complicated their health conditions are.
Talking about his experience in Pakistan, the country having a very poor health structure, Dr Jafri said patients get frustrated when doctors do not speak healing words or when they talk about only dangerous aspects of their diseases.
According to Dr Jafri, doctors must understand the difference between placebo effect and nocebo effect on patients. Nocebo’s negative expectations stay long with patients and they are likely to respond negatively to a suggestion that something will make them feel better. On the other hand, healing words from doctors could change this situation by making patients able to respond positively to a suggestion that something would make them feel better, he added.
The healing words of doctors can do wonders for treatment by making the placebo effect strong which is real psychobiological phenomenon and because of which the brain is actively involved and anticipates a clinical benefit.
Dr Joe Dispenza in his 2014 book, You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter, discussed two studies from the University of Toledo in which researchers divided a group of healthy volunteers into two optimistic and pessimistic groups and checked how they respond to their diagnostic questions. Researcher gave the volunteers a placebo, but informed them that the medicine would make them fell unwell. The results was that the volunteers had strong negative reaction. On the other hand, when they gave the volunteers a placebo and told them that the drug would make their sleep pleasant, people in optimistic group reported much better sleep than those in pessimistic group.
The results of studies in Dispenza’s book clearly indicate that health providers’ words do wonders for treatment and demonstrate that in all types of treatment the placebo is, in fact, the basic determinant of the degree of success the treatment has.
There is no training for health providers how to express healing words and neither the placebo effect is usually found in medical textbook. But, the strong impact of good bedside manner is largely accepted and a number of health providers are of the view that the placebo plays as important a role in the process of healing and recovery as a drug or modern medical machinery.
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