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Research Guides@Tufts

The Patient Experience


Of Interest: The Importance of Empathy in Medical Care


 Patient care is more than just healing -- it's building a connection that encompasses mind, body and soul.
If you could stand in someone else's shoes . . . hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently?
CEO Toby Cosgrove, MD, shared this video, titled "Empathy," with the Cleveland Clinic staff during his 2012 State of the Clinic address on Feb. 27, 2013.


Dr. Riess has devoted her career to research on the neuroscience and art of the patient-doctor relationship and teaching psychiatry residents and medical students. Her research team conducts translational research based on the neuroscience of emotions. The effectiveness of Dr. Riess's empathy training approach has been demonstrated in several studies including a randomized controlled trial. She has developed faculty curricula for "Teaching the Teachers" of Psychotherapy that is used by faculty psychiatrists. Dr. Riess's empathy training curricula are implemented internationally in healthcare as well as in business.



Title:  Empathy in Critical Care.

Part of the Sub Conference: Empathy and Health Care

Sample Questions for the Panel:

  • How do you define Empathy? 

  • Please describe your work and why the principle of empathy is relevant to it.

  • The theory of Counter-Transference in Psychology postulates that the practitioner's feelings are entangled with the patient's. Does this also happen in the medical field?

  • How is compassion related to empathy in your professional opinion?

  • What are the differences and are both necessary in medical care or in your work otherwise?

  • How do those providing objective medical care, especially around the grim subject of one's own death, provide compassionate care without absorbing the emotions surrounding imminent death?

  • What is the difference between Sympathy and Empathy?

  • How does one foster and nurture empathy within the context of your work?

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