Published on

A new study demonstrates that the benefits of clinician empathy toward patients can be even more effective than some therapies in treating chronic low-back pain, as published in JAMA Network Open. Low-back pain affects up to 85% of the US population, and researchers found that treatment from physicians whom the patients considered “very empathic” was associated with better outcomes at the end of 1 year than treatment from “slightly empathic” physicians. Each of the 1,470 study participants answered 10 questions about physician empathy and compassion, and their outcomes were tracked for 12 months. Patient-reported outcomes included level of pain and ability to function. Those who had very empathic physicians reported less back pain and less interference with their quality of life.

More powerful than downward dog: The study, conducted at University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, also found that physician empathy was more strongly associated with favorable outcomes than were other common options including opioid therapy, lumbar spine surgery, and nonpharmacological treatments like yoga.

Read More

Physician Empathy Can Improve Outcomes For Patients With Back Pain