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Patients suffer. Yet clinical care has moved away from addressing suffering. Suffering—“severe distress that threatens the integrity of the person”1—spans physical, emotional, social, spiritual, existential, and financial domains, and as a whole-person problem it doesn’t fit neatly within current biomedical paradigms. Suffering occurs in many clinical contexts, not only at the end of life, and calls on us as physicians to address our patients as whole persons, particularly challenging in our age of specialization and atomization in medicine.
Epstein RM, Back AL. Responding to Suffering. JAMA. 2015;314(24):2623-2624. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13004