Healing skills for medical practice

Ann Intern Med. 2008 Nov 18;149(10):720-4. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-149-10-200811180-00006.


It is well recognized that physicians' relationships with their patients can have healing effects, but the skills in this area of medical practice are understudied. This article reports on research designed to identify a core set of healing skills. The authors interviewed 50 practitioners, who were identified by their peers as "healers," representing both allopathic and complementary medicine and alternative medicine. Interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed, made anonymous, and analyzed independently, and differences were reconciled by discussion. Eight skills emerged as pivotal from the transcripts of these interviews: do the little things; take time; be open and listen; find something to like, to love; remove barriers; let the patient explain; share authority; and be committed. Mastery of these skills would provide enduring improvements in patient care and reaffirm medicine's calling as a healing profession.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods*
  • Physician's Role
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Trust