AAHS Main Site  | Past & Future Meetings  
American Association for Hand Surgery
Meeting Home Final Program
Sunglasses
Concert
Poolside
Turtle

Back to 2017 Scientific Program ePosters


Physician Empathy and Immediate Changes in Pain Intensity and Limitations in the Orthopedic Hand Surgeon's Office
David Ring, MD, PhD1; Thomas J Kootstra, BS2; Suzanne C. Wilkens, MD3; Mariano Menendez, MD4
1Dell Medical School, Austin, TX, 2Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, Boston, MA, 3Harvard University, Boston, MA, 4Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Purpose: Data from the primary care setting suggest a positive association between physician empathy and clinical outcomes. Itís possible that an empathetic encounter could make immediate and measureable changes in a patientís mindset, symptoms, and limitations. Therefore we tested the primary null hypothesis that the difference in pre- and post-visit PROMIS Upper Extremity Function scores is not different between patients who rate their physician to be highly empathic (full score on the CARE Measure) during the office visit and those who donít. The same null hypothesis was tested for Pain Intensity, PROMIS Pain Interference, and PROMIS Depression scores.
Methods: One-hundred-and-twenty-five patients were enrolled in this prospective study. Directly before and directly after the appointment with their physician, patients were asked to complete 3 Patient Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Computerized Adaptive Tests (Upper-Extremity Function, Pain Interference, and Depression) as well as pain intensity rating. After the visit, participants were asked to rate their physician using the Consultation and Relational Empathy (CARE) Measure, which was our main explanatory variable.
Results: Pain intensity decreased slightly but significantly more after a physician was rated highly empathic by the patient, but differences in PROMIS Upper Extremity Function, Pain Intensity and Depression scores were not significantly different between patients who rated their physician to be highly empathic during the office visit and those who did not.
Conclusion: A highly empathetic visit creates satisfaction and relieves some pain, but only plants the seeds of potential for more gradual decreases in limitations, catastrophic thinking, and symptoms of depression. Itís possible that physician empathy is more important now than ever.


Back to 2017 Scientific Program ePosters