Is there a lack of communication between doctor and patient?


Are we lost for words when we are in the presence of our doctor? It is certainly something that can take place, even in people who are not overly impressionable.

Matthew J. Press, public health specialist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, has given a name to this situation, “the silence of the white coat,” based on the more widely known “white coat syndrome,” a phenomenon that affects 30% of patients. This occurs when a patient’s nerves shoot up at the time of having their blood pressure measured, which in turn causes the hypertension (high blood pressure) results to rocket, therefore not reflecting accurate findings.

Let us go over the factors that may make us feel awkward in the communication process with our doctor:

–  Anxiety: visiting the doctor becomes a really traumatic process for some people. 

–  Fear: each time we visit our doctor, we face a possible negative diagnosis.

Intimidation: depending on the position of power of the doctor, their communication skills and degree of empathy with their patients.

Vulnerability: when we feel sick, not only our physical but also our psychological defenses are weakened, and this may become an obstacle when relating to other people.

Do we understand everything our doctor tells us?

“No” is the most likely answer.

The use of language by physicians is also a variable that must be considered. As with any other technical profession, physicians have their own slang when referring to certain diseases, treatments or medical instruments.

Words that are the ABC for a doctor can become a headache for many patients. The language therefore becomes cryptic and can generate a barrier of understanding which should not exist.

As we have mentioned from time to time in the Best Doctors’ blog, in order for the doctor-patient relationship to function, a twofold commitment must take place:

On the one hand, the physician must be predisposed to approach the patient using language which is as accessible as possible, but also in terms of empathy, the physician must understand the patient’s situation and how the information they receive about their condition affects them.

On the other hand, the patient must have an active engagement with their illness, make an effort to understand the depth of their diagnosis as well as to complete the treatment prescribed by their doctor, which is something we, as patients, do not always do.

The problem of time

Obviously, overcrowded waiting rooms and limited time devoted to the needs of each patient are major problems that both parties (physician and patient) must understand and overcome together, so that the patient’s health improves as well as their relationship.

At Best Doctors, we make an effort every day so that patients have access to all the information they need in order to make the best decisions for their condition. Peace of mind also plays a part in your health.