Love thy doctor means good results for patients

Patients who love their doctors are more likely to take medications as prescribed and make lifestyle changes, said Dean Ornish, M.D., a clinical professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, and founder of the nonprofit Preventative Medicine Research Institute, in a Q&A published in Medscape.

Ornish runs an intensive cardiac rehab program that encourages lifestyle changes rather than medications such as statins. Reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the 72-hour program comprises 18 four-hour sessions that are usually twice weekly for nine weeks. Each session includes an hour of supervised exercise, an hour of stress management training (including meditation), a group meal with a lecture and an hour-long support group, he told the publication.

With its 90 percent adherence rate, patients in the program are more successful than those taking statins, reports Medscape.

What makes this program so successful? Unlike statins, the lifestyle changes patients make and the social networks they create as a result make them feel good, according to Ornish.

Patients' relationships with their doctors are also important, he told the publication. "If your patients love you, they are much more likely to take their medicine and change their lifestyle," he told the publication. "They are much less likely to do behaviors that are harmful for them."

For ways to show they care, doctors should look to alternative medicine practitioners, who connect with patients by touching them and listening to them, Ornish told Medscape.

To learn more:
- read the Q&A