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The study, which combined data from 28 clinical trials involving over 6,000 patients, adds weight to the argument that patient outcomes can be improved when doctors enhance how they express empathy and create positive expectations of benefit.
The research team, from Oxford and Southampton universities in the UK, the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research and Lithuania's Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, analysed a series of randomised clinical trials that looked at the effects of empathy or positive communication in healthcare consultations. These trials included data from consultations on a wide range of clinical conditions including pain, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis and recovery after surgery. The researchers also reviewed the effects of positive communication on quality of life and patient satisfaction, based on reports from patients in these trials.