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Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. 2012 Sep;55(9):1085-92. doi: 10.1007/s00103-012-1535-y.

[The doctor-patient relationship against the backdrop of patient-centered medicine. The conclusions of dialogical ethics].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät, Abteilung für Sozialethik, Universität Bonn, Am Hof 1, 53113, Bonn, Deutschland.


"Health" and "illness" are multilayered terms. The understanding of human health depends, apart from scientific aspects, on people's individual perceptions as well as on aspects of culture and world view. The ideal of patient-centered medicine requires that a physician does not merely have to establish an objectifiable diagnosis. Rather, a physician should also respect the patients' right to self-determination, their personal values, and their subjective view of health and illness. The philosophy of dialogue, which developed in the twentieth century, offers a conceptual background for this ideal. On an empirical basis, the successful communication between doctor and patient can be interpreted as a useful placebo phenomenon. Alternative medicine puts great emphasis on the doctor's attentive care. This also explains why the alternative branch of medicine has appealed to many patients. Therefore, science-oriented medicine should review methods in which the doctor's empathy and dialogue ability are crucial to treatment success. It is part of the physician's responsibility to appreciate the personal perspectives of patients, to respect them and, if necessary, to engage with them critically.

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