Flipping Patients and Frames: The Patient in Relational Medicine

Henri Zukier


Medicine has evolved in two opposite directions. Evidence-based medicine focuses more on laboratory and computer data than on the patient. Yet experimental data also provide growing evidence for the importance of the patient’s social-psychological “demand” side of medicine, to complement the doctor’s bio-cognitive “supply” side. The patient’s mindset has major diagnostic and therapeutic effects. The patient’s experience is shaped by perceptions of four dimensions: meaning, agency, self-image, and temporal focus. The patient’s perceptions are linked in part to the therapeutic context, through the interaction between doctor and patient. In that proximal setting, the dimensions can be reshaped, for better and worse. These dynamics point to the inherently interactional nature of medicine and to the significant role of medical social sciences in the therapeutic context.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2017;8(3):e0034