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Can a Nice Doctor Make Treatments More Effective?

close up of two hands coming from a person white medical coat are gripping another person's hand
Jan 22 2019
Fellow, Research, Stanford

In the age of the internet, it’s easier than ever to pull together lots of information to find the best doctor. And if you’re like most patients, the metric you probably rely on most is the doctor’s credentials. Where did she go to school? How many patients has he treated with this condition?

You might also read some Yelp reviews about how nice this doctor is; how friendly and how caring. But all that probably seems secondary to the doctor’s skills; sure, it would be great to have a doctor whom you actually like, but that’s not going to influence your health the way the doctor’s competence will.

But our research in the psychology department at Stanford University suggests that this view is mistaken. We found that having a doctor who is warm and reassuring actually improves your health.

The authors of this article are Lauren Howe, a 2014 Shaper Family Graduate Fellow, Psychology, and Kari Leibowitz, a 2015 Stanford Graduate Fellow and a 2018 Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellow.

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