Empathy And Oncology, Prerequisites For Patient-centered Care

Empathy and oncology, prerequisites for patient-centered care

Empathetic oncologists are the key to holistic patient-centered care. There are important elements that can help a patient cope with the reality of his illness. They complement the various treatments that the patient may receive. These are some of these elements: easy access to healthcare professionals, understanding, and appropriate social and emotional attention. Empathy and oncology also need to go together.

Being diagnosed with cancer can be devastating. However, it is important for patients to remember that cancer is still a disease. So it is not the end but on the contrary the beginning of a long journey. It marks the beginning of something that will require patients, their families and the care enhancers to truly give their best.

This journey involves two things: dealing with the treatments and applying psychological and emotional strategies to deal with its difficult everyday reality. During this process, the relationship between the patient and the people who provide healthcare is essential. It must be a priority. Patients need their doctors to be able to give their absolute best.

It is extremely fundamental that empathy and oncology go together. It is the strong bond that connects the health professional with the patient. If the doctors lack empathy, they will treat their patients in a cold way, like a statistic. It goes without saying that these attitudes and behaviors can have a very negative impact on patients. After all, they are caught up in the situation.

Communication in oncology

Communication in oncology

Healthcare professionals are incredible people. We commend their work and their dedication to their patients and their health and happiness. However, we also know that not all countries are equally lucky in this area. After all, not all governments have good health systems or protocols in place.

We give an example. In Spain, healthcare professionals have used certain skills for years. The communication skills and psychological and emotional abilities so common in Spain are still relatively new in the United States.

There are undoubtedly exceptions. Everything also depends on the skill and interest of each healthcare worker. Still, researchers only started investigating this topic in 2016.

The aim is to train professionals in oncology health care in communication skills. Medical proficiency is not the only essential tool to be learned. Communication skills and emotional psychology are not innate. Experts should train health professionals in these skills. If they are going to work in the sensitive and complicated field of oncology, they must receive a good and specialized training.

Communication Skills in Oncology

Important communication skills in oncology

Communication means more than just being a good listener. It also means knowing how to respond and how to intuitively sense the patient’s needs. In addition, it also means using the right resources and strategies for each individual patient. All this will ensure holistic and quality patient care that goes far beyond chemotherapy and surgical procedures. Here we present three important skills that connect empathy and oncology.

How do you ask questions?

Healthcare professionals know they have to deliver bad news on a regular basis. They have to diagnose someone with cancer and provide the patients with information about surgical procedures. In addition, they have to deliver the news that a treatment is not working or that a disease is progressing rather than being in remission. It’s not easy. That is precisely why health professionals should be properly trained in this form of communication.

On the other hand, simply providing information is not always enough. Healthcare professionals also need to know how to ask the right questions. After all, they have to check whether the patient understands the information.

It is also an opportunity to see how the patient reacts and what his needs are. With the right questions, the health professional can determine whether the patient needs any form of additional treatment (such as psychological attention, for example).

Empathy and Oncology

Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and so on. All medical professionals, especially those who work in oncology, know that empathy is key. Patients and their families can be stressed, scared, defensive and even angry. So the people who work in health care need to know how to deal with all these emotions.

Models for shared decision making

These models are fundamental in the field of oncology and patient care. Patients are involved in their own care as much as possible. In this way, patients do not see their caregivers as the absolute authority who makes all decisions unilaterally.

In these models, the patient and his family must be involved at every step of the process. They make the decisions together with the medical team. In addition, they are committed to actively fighting cancer.

Patient-centered care in oncology

Finally, we can state that communication in oncology should be a top priority for good patient-centred care.  Empathy and oncology are not separate. Beating cancer is an exhausting battle. It is not something the patient can do on his own. Family and social support are essential. Together with high quality healthcare, it is a powerful source of motivation and hope. 

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