Physicians should cut the jokes, concentrate on good communication and being on time

LETTER — Posted June 21, 2004

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Regarding "Exam room comedy best used with caution," (Article, May 24/31):

As a psychologist, physician's wife, and sometimes patient-in-the-exam-room, I agreed with the title of this article, but was dismayed by the examples given, and would not find any of them funny.

Because of the power imbalance in the physician-patient relationship, patients may laugh at or decline to comment on jokes, thus misleading the physician into thinking that humor has been well received.

Rather than a humorous physician, I would prefer one who sees me on time, sits down and makes eye contact while listening to my concerns, takes time to offer explanation or recommendations, and answers my questions.

All of this "relaxes patients and helps build a connection" much better than levity.

Virginia Collings, PhD, Berea, Ohio

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/06/21/edlt0621.htm.

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