The subjective aspects of "caring" are an important part of health care quality and should be understood in the context of the illness-recovery process and the physician-patient relationship. "Caring" requires sensitivity on the part of the physician to the role of illness in our society and to the emotional component of illness in every patient. The patient's emotional response to the health care he or she receives should be respected as a valid aspect of health care quality. It is a continuing challenge to the medical profession to include some means of assessing this aspect of health care as part of professional standards review. As Dr Peabody noted, "The secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient."