Effective Patient-Physician Communication Based on Osteopathic Philosophy in Caring for Elderly Patients

Donald R. Noll, DO; Terrie Ginsberg, DO; Abdul Elahi, MD, MPH; and Thomas A. Cavalieri, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Accepted: April 22, 2015

Published: January 1, 2016

J Osteopath Med; 116(1): 42-47

The objective of this article is to discuss effective communication strategies between elderly patients and their physicians from the perspective of osteopathic heritage. The patient-physician communication styles of Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, and early osteopathic physicians (ie, DOs) may have influenced how DOs today communicate with their patients. Historical literature describes how Still would discuss with his patients the causes of their health problems using analogies and language they would understand, and how, when caring for a patient at the end of life, he empathically provided emotional support for both patients and their families. Early DOs advocated setting clear expectations for patients regarding clinical outcomes and carefully listening to patients to build trust. The Osteopathic Oath, which calls for the DO to view the patient as a friend, may also affect patient-physician communication. Early osteopathic philosophy and culture, as modeled by Dr Still in his approach to elderly patients, should inspire today’s DOs in their communication with their elderly patients.

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