Research supports the idea that a few kind words from an oncologist can go a long way toward helping people with cancer understand their treatment, stick with it, cope better and maybe even have a better chance of recovery.
However, a study has found that doctors and patients aren’t communicating all that well about emotions.
Researchers recorded almost 400 conversations between oncologists and patients with advanced cancer. They listened for moments when patients expressed emotions like fear, anger or sadness, and for the doctors’ replies.
They team found that doctors used responses that encouraged patients to keep expressing their emotions only 22 percent of the time. Male doctors were worse at it than female ones: 48 percent of the men never used any of these responses, as opposed to 20 percent of the women.