I’ve long admired James Carville for his bluntness and occasional insights. When Bill Clinton’s campaign was struggling in the fall of 1992, it was Carville who helped move George H.W. Bush from “unbeatable” to lame duck by so clearly stating what most Americans already knew. Clinton needed to shift the focus to jobs and prosperity, thus inspiring the now famous phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
I couldn’t help thinking of that phrase — it’s the economy, stupid — when I came across a recent study published in Academic Medicine that looked at the connection between physicians’ empathy and clinical outcomes for diabetic patients. Researchers at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia sought to test the hypothesis that physicians’ empathy could benefit their patients in real and meaningful ways.
Low and behold, empathy matters! Among almost 900 diabetics, the study found that a physicians’ degree of empathy was a “unique and significant contributor” to the prediction of good control of hemoglobin A1c and LDL cholesterol. Physicians with high empathy scores had patients with better health outcomes. (more…)