“A warm smile, an affectionate tap on the shoulder and a friendly tone perhaps has more healing potential than the entire inventory of prescriptions that is written on a letterhead,” aptly believes Dr. Arun Kochar
Dr. Arun Kochar, Senior Consultant, Cardiology, Fortis Mohali delivered a talk on how important it was for the doctors to also include non-verbal communication with their patients, which helped a lot in strengthening them emotionally and helping them in overall recovery today.
Speaking about the importance of non-verbal communication especially for a medical practitioner, Dr. Arun Kochar, Senior Consultant, Cardiology, Fortis Mohali said, “A warm smile, an affectionate tap on the shoulder and a friendly tone perhaps has more healing potential than the entire inventory of prescriptions that is written on a letterhead. Sometimes an entire vocabulary of fancy clinical terms fail to make as much of the desired effect on a patient as a concerned touch and a reassuring smile.”
Many studies have proved that human touch improves performance of school children in the class, enhances the athletic abilities of players on the field and a concerned pat from a doctor leaves patients with the impression that the visit had lasted twice as long as it actually was, he added.
“Patients in the hospital are often extremely stressed owing to their ailment and due to the uncertainty of their future. A doctor who is rude, intolerant and overbearing often amplifies their dilemma. Many a times, all that the patient needs is an indulgent and tolerant hearing from the doctor. Apart from the clean and organized ambience, it is the affable and genial behavior of the health care staff, which matters most. There is limited literature available on the benefits of friendly bedside mannerisms and warm affectionate behavior of doctors on the ailing,” advised Dr Kochar.
He further said, “It has been observed that such gestures tend to lower the stress hormones, blood pressure & heart rate, and enhance oxytocin levels, a hormone thought to calm and counter stress. There is also a rationale that relaxation therapies and familiar surroundings in the clinic enhance mood and promote healing.”
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison tested that when they analyzed stress levels among volunteers giving a presentation. Afterward, participants who got hugs from their moms saw decreases in cortisol levels an hour after the presentation.
Syncing with this research, Dr Kochar said, “The famous magic hug of Indian movies has perhaps a logical and scientific rationale. Social recognition and optimism are basic to human needs & desires. For humans, it is imperative to have social support & harmonious relationships with fellow individuals. A lack of social support, neglect from relations and losing a sense of belonging has been linked to increased risk of disease. It has been observed that long standing social separations and isolated existence such as single parenting potentiate atherosclerosis and cancers. A doctor who shows concern and pleasant behavior towards his patient is helping him by alleviating such social insecurities and apathies.”
“A patient who ‘feels great’ after visiting his doctor might be more healed of his disease than his biochemical values validate. It must never be forgotten that although modern medicine has improved longevity, it has still not been able to cure most diseases. For a holistic approach to healing, it is undeniably important that a sense of appreciation, congeniality and optimism be offered to the diseased regardless of severity of his ailment,” he concluded.