December 24 2008

The Power of Hope

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland (Dr Harris); and Editor in Chief, JAMA (Dr DeAngelis).

JAMA. 2008;300(24):2919-2920. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.884

The holiday season is traditionally a time for hopefulness as the new year begins. With the promise of a new administration in Washington, there is a renewed sense of optimism for health care reform and hope for better health care for all in the United States. In this Editorial, we start today by reflecting on the essence of personal health care that is based on the depth of the relationship between patient and physician so eloquently described by Peabody: “The treatment of a disease may be entirely impersonal; the care of a patient must be completely personal.”1 Personal care begins with establishing a sense of hope for the patient and seeking to maintain that sense throughout the course of treatment. For patients, that means a hopeful prognosis; a promise that something can be done for their illness; that they will be actively involved in their treatment; or knowledge that hospice care may provide solace for their last days if their illness is terminal.

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