The patient-clinician interaction is fundamental to clinical care. Positive clinical encounters are associated with higher patient satisfaction, mutual trust, treatment adherence, and even clinical outcomes. Conversely, suboptimal interactions may propagate miscommunication, clinician burnout, patient distrust, and discourage care seeking.
The patient-clinician relationship is also likely to account for a substantial part of psychologically mediated relief (e.g., placebo analgesia). However, clinical engagement is often considered an intangible “art of medicine,” and scientific inquiry into the specific underpinning mechanisms has been minimal.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record brain activity simultaneously (fMRI hyperscanning) in patients with chronic pain and clinicians, in which the clinician treated the patient to reduce evoked pain.
Professor, and Director, Center for Integrative Pain NeuroImaging (CIPNI),
Harvard Medical School; MGH
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