Empathy: Necessary for effective pain management?

Abstract

Empathy is a provider attribute that has been a topic of increased clinical interest, particularly as it relates to pain. This article examines various dimensions of the pain and empathy literature: definitions of empathy, research regarding the psychophysiology of empathy for pain, and research related to empathy in psychological and medical care. Research regarding topics broadly related to empathy is also reviewed, including communication skills and patient-centered care. Although this literature supports the clinical value of provider empathy and/or behaviors likely to reflect empathy, little research has explicitly examined empathy in the treatment of pain. Nonetheless, when considered in the broader context, the evidence is sufficient to draw some conclusions regarding approaches to pain care that are likely to reflect and/or elicit provider empathy and are central to effective pain management.

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Correspondence to Raymond C. Tait.

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Tait, R.C. Empathy: Necessary for effective pain management?. Current Science Inc 12, 108–112 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-008-0021-6

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Keywords

  • Empathic Concern
  • Emotional Labor
  • Communication Skill Training
  • Interventional Radiologic Procedure
  • Interpersonal Reactivity Index