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Br J Gen Pract. 1999 Apr;49(441):309-12.

The physician healer: ancient magic or modern science?

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Institute of General Practice, University of Exeter.


The therapeutic role of general practitioners (GPs) is one that, over the years, has slowly diminished with the growing fashion for evidence-based medicine. However, it is clear that the art of healing and the strength of the doctor-patient relationship play a vital role in improving the well-being of patients. This is exemplified by the placebo effect, where the attitude of the doctor can make an appreciable difference to the psychological response of the patient who feels the need to be understood and listened to empathically. By maximizing the role of the physician healer, there is considerable scope for bridging the gap left by the impersonality of medical science, while at the same time increasing the GP's effectiveness.

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