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Doctors and Compassionate Behavior

University of Rochester researchers are studying compassionate behavior between doctors and their patients.

23 oncologists volunteered to be recorded during visits with their advanced cancer patients. 

Senior investigator for the study, Dr. Ronald Epstein says compassion is different than empathy, which is a reflection of how someone is feeling.

Compassion, he says, lets the patient know the doctor is with them every step of the way in their treatment.

He says feelings of compassion can't be artificially generated, but the ability to communicate compassion in a clear way so the patient understands what a physician's feelings and intentions are, is a set of skills that can be taught.

The new study on compassionate behavior is in the journal "Health Expectations."

Dr. Epstein adds the first author of the new study is a third year medical student at the U of R, Rachel Cameron.