It is hard to live with pain. Whether the pain is acute after an injury, or has become chronic, it can be challenging for patients to manage– and seek help. If the treating provider appears indifferent, that makes it even harder. Patients want to know that their physician is paying attention. A physician who appears aloof would have difficulty connecting with their patient and may miss the clues and the information that is required.
The patient-physician relationship is essential for any management plan to succeed. This relationship is bolstered when the treatment provider takes the time to sit and listen. Patients want to be validated. Living with chronic pain takes a toll, and most patients have experienced being brushed off–by family members and providers.
A sympathetic attitude allows the healthcare professional to gain the confidence of the patient. When they feel that their physician is listening to their concerns, it becomes easier to get connect. Part of that process is maintaining good eye contact and avoiding distractions. This is a skill that can be learned. Doctors who take the time to silence a cell phone or pager show they care.
In managing chronic pain and many other conditions, physicians generally try less aggressive treatment plans first, then move to more invasive therapies, as needed. Because people and their needs are so unique, it can sometimes take several attempts to find an approach that is helpful. That means several visits to the office. This can translate into frustration if the patient does not feel that they are being listened to or taken seriously about how they feel and respond.
Trust is paramount – and it works both ways. In order to get the best of their advices, the patient need to be able to trust the physician and the physicians need to know that their recommendations are being followed up. If a good working relationship is created on the first encounter, it becomes easier for them to understand one another. Good bedside manners are essential to help build a lasting trust that translates into better results.