Our review suggests Cochrane and Anne’s empathy aren’t just the stuff of stories. Empathic and positive communication seems to improve conditions ranging from lung function and length of hospital stay, to pain, patient satisfaction, and quality of life. From related research, we also understand more and more about how positive empathic communication works.

 

First, you need empathy to make the right diagnosis. Without it patients may not share symptoms, especially embarrassing ones. Next, an empathic practitioner will help put a patient at ease and reduce their stress. Dozens of trials suggest that relaxation reduces pain, depression and anxiety, and even lowers the risk of heart disease. Also, by being positive (which is part of empathy), activates the patient’s brain in such a way that the patient makes his or her own painkilling endorphins.