Toward a Biopsychosocial Understanding of the Patient–Physician Relationship: An Emerging Dialogue
Herbert M. Adler 1,2
1Department of Family Medicine, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA USA
2Department of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College, 1015 Chestnut Street Suite 1000, Philadelphia, PA 19107 USA
Complexity theory has been used to view the patient–physician relationship as constituted by complex responsive processes of relating. It describes an emergent, psychosocial relational process through which patients and physicians continually and reciprocally influence each other’s behavior and experience. As psychosocial responses are necessarily biopsychosocial responses, patients and physicians must likewise be influencing each other’s psychobiology. This mutual influence may be subjectively experienced as empathy, and may be skillfully employed by the clinician to directly improve the patient’s psychobiology.
Key words: patient–physician relationship, biopsychosocial, interpersonal neurobiology
Source: J Gen Intern Med. 2007 February; 22(2): 280–285.