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Are you a self-disclosing doctor?

Article

Are your personal stories getting in the way of good medicine?

"Wow, Rufus has a heck of an ear infection. Now let me tell you about myself." OK, that's probably not how you talk to clients, but a report in the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine shows that physicians often offer personal disclosures—and may be wasting valuable appointment time in an attempt to create a personal bond. Could the same go for you?

The study found that only 14 percent of doctors' self-disclosures were offered in response to a patient question. And only 4 percent (three out of 73 self-disclosures in 113 visits) were educational, supportive, explanatory, or accompanied by a sign from the patient that it was useful. Twenty-nine percent of self-disclosures failed to return to the patient topic that preceded the disclosure.

More bad news: Many self-disclosures were found to be non sequiturs, seemed to serve doctors' needs and not patients', interrupted the flow of information, and wasted time in visits that were often time-pressured. The authors encouraged doctors to talk less about themselves and to show empathy and use other communication strategies to build relationships with clients.

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