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April 24, 1967

Physicians, Clergymen, and the Hospitalized Patient

JAMA. 1967;200(4):354-356. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120170126051

THIS INQUIRY WAS REFERRED TO TWO CONSULTANTS WHOSE DISCUSSIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS:  Throughout the course of history most physicians have recognized that in all forms of illness the morale of the patient influences the effectiveness of therapeutic procedures. Sir William Osier, one of the greatest teachers of medicine, stressed: "It is more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of disease a patient has." The old-fashioned physician, even in the beginning of this century, had very few physical means of controlling disease processes, but he had great opportunities for restoring and supporting the psychological health of his patients. He was usually personally known to them as a man trusted by his family and his community. The physician from his side could usually gain easily knowledge of the character of the sick and of the psychologically significant circumstances of his life. The custom of