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DPR is important because of the above reasons. Patients come to see doctors for help with
problems they believe require medical interventions. These are rarely “pure”
biological problems. The underlying disease, if any, almost always has an overlay of
illness that also needs attending to. Even when someone presents with a simple sore
throat, there may be some occupational or family reason why they have come at that time.
Simply asking “How is work?” might be sufficient to uncover the fact that the patient
is not working, may be depressed or under stress from being unemployed. This might benefit
from just a few minutes empathic listening and possible advice for connecting to job
training schemes, to accompany the advice of salt water gargles and acetominophen for the
sore throat, and an invitation to return if s/he feels worse or is finding it hard to
cope. This way, instead of just treating a sore throat you might prevent a suicide.
Even if the patient is not depressed, they would probably appreciate your question as an expression of your interest in them as a person, and at very least leave with a much more positive opinion of you.
Think for a moment about doctors you have been to see as a patient. Who was the doctor who you felt best or most happy with? What was it that made you feel that way? What about the doctor you felt least comfortable or happy with? Again, why did you feel that way about him or her?
Throughout this lecture, reflect on your own experiences as a patient.