Title: Enhancing empathic skills in clinical practice: a linguistic approach

Authors: Gabrina Pounds

Addresses: Faculty of Arts and Humanities, School of Language and Communication Studies, University of East Anglia, Earlham Road Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

Abstract: It is widely acknowledged that clinical empathy in medical consultation practice is instrumental in delivering positive patient outcomes [e.g., Hojat et al., 2002] and that (trainee) clinicians' use of empathy may be enhanced through appropriate sensitisation [e.g., Hojat, (2007), pp.181-182]. Different strategies have been used to promote the use of empathy but studies indicate that physicians still perceive "a gap in communication skills training particularly in managing emotional and behavioural reactions to patients" [Bonvicini et al., (2009), p.1]. Although some reference is made in current consultation skills manuals to the communicative dimensions of empathy, they do not provide a systematic overview of typical linguistic realisations and none of the existing rating scales focuses specifically and explicitly on verbal formulations. The aim of this paper is to discuss how a linguistic framework may be used to reinforce the teaching of empathy within current consultation skills training and thereby improve clinical practice.

Keywords: clinical empathy; emotion; emphatic skills; clinical practice; consultation skills training; doctor-patient interactions; linguistics; medical consultation; sensitisation; behavioural reactions; emotional reactions; verbal formulations; healthcare patients; communication skills.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2012.049516

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2012 Vol.5 No.2, pp.114 - 131

Received: 08 May 2021
Accepted: 12 May 2021

Published online: 05 Oct 2012 *

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