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Working to improve patient-doctor communication

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In case you missed it, yesterday's San Jose Mercury News featured an article on the challenges of patient-doctor communication. In the piece, Stanford's Clarence Braddock, MD, weighed in on the issue and discussed what the medical school is doing to close the communication gap:

..."The average person is very reluctant to openly discuss things like sexual function, incontinence, cognitive problems, and that's natural," said Clarence Braddock, associate dean for medical education at the Stanford School of Medicine. "But many physicians themselves are not comfortable asking those questions."

Braddock said one of the goals of Stanford's medical training is to increase physician comfort in raising these questions; he also said they're working to improve the demeanor of doctors during a visit, as nonverbal cues are essential for a patient's level of trust.

"If the doctor is staring at a computer screen, doesn't seem to be listening, brushes the person off - those things don't make a patient feel comfortable," Braddock said.

Stanford now videotapes medical trainees, with instructors doing a debriefing after each session. "We look at things like body language, asking open-ended questions," Braddock said.

Photo by striatic

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