Humanising medical practice: the role of empathy

Marion Lustig
Med J Aust 2008; 188 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2008.tb01611.x
Published online: 18 February 2008

To the Editor: I congratulate Haslam on his excellent overview of the role of empathy in medicine.1 He rightly reminds us that empathy is not vague or ill defined; rather, its presence improves clinical outcomes, and it can be both learned and lost. I would go further and argue that empathy is not an optional extra but a clinical competence essential for sound medical practice, no matter what our specialty. All clinical practice requires a doctor–patient relationship, the core skill of which is empathy.

  • Marion Lustig1,2

  • 1 Department of Psychological Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Balint Society of Australia, Melbourne, VIC.



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