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LETTER DECEMBER 2017 Meet the Men Behind Your Meals
www.OctoberKitchen.com | 860-533-0588 | 309 Green Rd, Manchester, CT 06042
How Empathy Leads to Patient Recovery I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND
This is an example of interpersonal synchronization. While additional research is needed to determine whether increased synchronicity causes decreased pain, or vice versa, Goldstein suggests touch can be a tool for “communicating empathy, resulting in an analgesic, or pain-killing, effect.” It is possible empathetic touch influences the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex, which is associated with pain perceptions, respiratory function, and empathy. Goldstein’s study is the first to explore interpersonal synchronization in the context of empathy, pain, and touch, but he is not the first to examine the role empathy plays in care fields. Affectionate touch can be a powerful force in personal relationships, but equally important is empathetic understanding. As Dr. James T. Hardee wrote in The Permanente Journal, numerous studies have found improved health outcomes, better patient compliance, and increased satisfaction among both patients and physicians when medical providers employ emphatic communication. Empathy is also viewed as a necessary ingredient in providing care to seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. There are many reasons to incorporate empathy into your routine. An empathetic response can help forge bonds of trust and allow caregivers to recognize when someone may not be as “fine” as they claim to be. Even in your everyday life, the emphatic approach can yield lasting benefits.
How do we help our loved ones feel better and recover more quickly? A recent study conducted in the United States suggests the key may lie in empathy. Dr. Pavel Goldstein was inspired to look into the connection between human touch and pain relief when his wife gave birth to their daughter. After delivering their child, his wife was still in pain and Goldstein wanted to help her. However, all he could do was hold her hands. It turned out, the love and care he showed with that warm touch of affection did make her feel better. The simple, genuine gesture left such an impression, Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, decided to conduct thorough research to understand the impact of touch on someone who’s in pain. In his study, Goldstein observed 22 heterosexual couples who either sat together while not touching, sat together while holding hands, or sat in separate rooms. In each scenario, the woman was subjected to a mild heat pain on their forearm for a few minutes. Goldstein found all woman allowed to hold hands with their partner experienced less pain, especially when their partner expressed more empathy. This pain relief is more than a physiological sense of support or understanding. Through his research, Goldstein found when an empathetic couple holds hands, their heart and respiratory rates sync, and pain experienced by one partner is lessened.
“An empathetic response can help forge bonds of trust and allow caregivers to recognize when someone may not be as ‘fine’ as they claim to be.”
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