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Journeys to the centre of empathy: The authentic core of communication skills 

Journeys to the centre of empathy: The authentic core of communication skills
Chapter:
Journeys to the centre of empathy: The authentic core of communication skills
Author(s):

Renee Lim

and Stewart Dunn

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198736134.003.0002
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date: 17 November 2017

As a species, we appear to be programmed to respond to the situations and emotions of others. However, there is wide variation in the ways doctors and other health professionals experience and express this capacity, and there is a need for effective training to enhance these skills. Unfortunately, systematic reviews suggest that many of our current training programmes do not improve the quality of communication in cancer and palliative care so as to limit the burden of professional burnout, and to improve patients’ mental or physical health and satisfaction. Our attempts to produce a generation of empathic clinical communicators are inconsistent and reviews of patient complaints reveal an increasing discontent with professional communication. So what is missing? How do we develop, sustain, and teach empathic communication? The answer, according to Lim and Dunn, is to shift the focus from empathy to authenticity.

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