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Enhancing physician-patient communication.

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  • 1Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Physician-patient communication encompasses the verbal and nonverbal interactions that form the basis for the doctor-patient relationship. A growing body of research and guidelines development acknowledges that physicians do not have to be born with excellent communication skills, but rather can learn them as they practice the other aspects of medicine. Improvement in physician-patient communication can result in better patient care and help patients adapt to illness and treatment. In addition, knowledge of communication strategies may decrease stress on physicians because delivering bad news, dealing with patients' emotions, and sharing decision making, particularly around issues of informed consent or when medical information is extremely complex, have been recognized by physicians as communication challenges. This paper will provide an overview of research aimed at improving patient outcome through better physician-patient communication and discuss guidelines and practical suggestions immediately applicable to clinical practice.

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