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April 17, 1996

Patient-Centered Medicine

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Virginia Richmond

JAMA. 1996;275(15):1156. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530390022017

To the Editor.  —Patient-centered medicine is an ideal. However, there is not evolution toward this goal in several critical areas of medical practice.1 Studies show that physicians communicate inadequately with both elderly and seriously ill patients. Brennan et al2 reported that hospitalized elderly patients had the higher risk for negligence-related adverse events. The SUPPORT project3 showed that physicians often failed to communicate with seriously ill hospitalized patients. In addition, physicians failed to incorporate patients' perspectives, and high technology was a risk to patients' quality of life. To improve the patient-physician relationship, we must change the physician.One strategy is teaching countertransference to reduce the potential harmful effect and enhance the positive effect of the physician on the patient. Physicians often have not wanted to treat elderly patients, have ignored normal aging, and have failed to recognize their own aging process.4 Learning about normal aging and being