Jack Coulehan, MD, MPH
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Coulehan J. Reply: The Man with Stars Inside. Ann Intern Med. 1997;127:1138. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-127-12-199712150-00043
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1997;127(12):1138.
Drs. Koval and Rousseau present useful perspectives on the role of physician–patient communication in palliative care. Dr. Koval emphasizes that pain is a multidimensional experience. I agree. The more global concept of “suffering” is helpful in this context . Patients may still experience suffering even if their pain is adequately treated with narcotics. To help alleviate their patients' suffering, physicians should attempt to understand and help address its psychological, social, and spiritual aspects. Although, in most cases, physicians will play a relatively minor role in this “existential” healing effort, a practitioner's empathy, respect, and willingness to listen can sometimes have remarkable results for both patient and practitioner. For example, my encounter with Antonio was an important healing event in my life.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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