|Author(s)||Joseph Ford, Alexa Hepburn, Ruth Parry|
|Title||What do displays of empathy do in palliative care consultations?|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Medical EMCA, Institutional interaction, Doctor-patient interaction, Empathy, End-of-life care, Healthcare communication, Hospice, Palliative care, Discursive psychology|
Empathy is an important way for doctors to demonstrate their understanding of patients’ subjective experiences. This research considers the role of empathy in 37 doctor–patient palliative or end-of-life care consultations recorded in a hospice. Specifically, it focuses on four contexts in which there is a disparity between patients’ displayed experience of their illness and the doctor’s biomedical, expertise-driven perspective on their illness. These include cases in which the patient is sceptical of the medical perspective, cases in which the patient’s expectations exceed what can realistically be provided and cases in which patients have an overly pessimistic view of their condition. The analysis shows how doctors can use empathic statements to display that they are attentive to the patient’s subjective experience even when the task at hand is, ostensibly, an expertise-driven, biomedical one. It thus demonstrates that empathy is of importance throughout palliative care consultations, even in those phases which might seem biomedical or task-driven.