Communication, Empathy, and Compassion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The state of modern healthcare is often not conducive to empathy or effective communication because physicians are pressured to see as many patients as they possibly can, sometimes forcing them to forsake emotional connection. However, empathy and communication are among the most vital skills for providing excellent care to patients. Incorporation of empathy and communication have been found to result in fewer malpractice suits, better adherence to treatment plans, fewer errors, and improved outcomes. The components of effective communication include active listening, offering feedback, and being able to apologize for past errors or miscommunication. The challenges associated with patients that are labelled “difficult” are discussed. The neurological processes of empathy are highlighted including the regions of the brain that are implicated. The chapter also frames empathy as a broad concept with emotive, moral, cognitive, and behavioral components, and that compassion is an empathic response that may facilitate feelings of engagement and protect against burnout. Increasingly, medical schools are incorporating training in building empathy and compassion into their curricula.

Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationPrinciples of Medical Professionalism
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780197506226, 9780197506257
StatePublished - Apr 2021

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