Previous studies have shown that communicative, caring doctors are more likely than their stand-offish counterparts to reduce their patients’ pain and anxiety. And patients of empathetic doctors are more likely to take their pills as prescribed, and report being satisfied with their doctor.
Empathy is also needed to be a good doctor. Unfriendly doctors are less likely to get enough information from patients to make the right diagnoses, or prescribe the right treatments. One study even showed that unempathetic doctors could cause harm by scaring patients away from medical care when they need it.