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Back and Neck Pain

Dialogue as Cure

Author| Ben Bobrow, MD

New York Times

The Conversation Placebo

Author Danielle Ofri, January 19, 2017

It’s clear that how doctors and nurses communicate their treatment can have profound effects on how patients experience the results of that treatment. Yet the conversation between doctors and patients is one of the least valued aspects of medical care. Insurance reimbursements for tests and medical procedures dwarf reimbursements for talking to patients or spending time thinking about what ails them. And the pharmaceutical industry, with its direct-to-consumer advertising, has promulgated the fallacy that every ailment must be met with a pill — brand name, of course.

As health care faces its latest overhaul, it’s crucial for the medical profession, as well as insurance companies and decision makers in government, to recognize the power of the doctor-patient conversation. It’s the most valuable diagnostic tool we have and can be remarkably effective as a treatment tool as well. Training for doctors and other medical professionals should emphasize communication skills with the same rigor that it does for other clinical skills.

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