He cited data from a 2009 British study that summarized what patients with chronic pain said they wanted from their primary care providers: emotional/psychological support, explanation, and understanding.1 What they did not want, Dr. Schatman stressed, was more medical treatment.  In the study, he said, the authors concluded that these patients “want a psychosocial approach, which they see as superior to a biomedical approach.”

One of the ways to implement psychosocial approaches in clinical practice is by adopting the practice of patient-centered care, which is one of the fundamental measures of quality outlined by the Institute of Medicine.2  This approach originated as a patient-communication approach characterized by the appreciation of each patient as a unique human being and has been shown to enhance patient satisfaction and improve outcomes. 

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“This may take additional time on the front end, Dr. Schatman cautions, “yet it saves time in the long run.”  

Also incorporating patient decision aids such as Option Grids® into practice “is a great time-saver and empowers our patients,” he said. Tools like Option Grids are designed to enhance patient confidence and encourage shared decision by helping patients and providers compare alternative treatment options.3

Dr. Schatman closed his presentation with a quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus that highlighted the main point of his talk, which is to listen to patients and include them into their treatment decisions: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” 


  1. Kirby K, Dunwoody L, Millar R.  What type of service provision do patients with chronic pain want from primary care providers?  Disabil Rehabil. 2009;31:1514-1519.
  2. Maizes V, Rakel D, Niemiec  JD. Integrative medicine and patient-centered care. Commissioned by the Institute of Medicine Summit on Interactive Medicine and the Health of the Public.  February 2009.  Available at: http://iom.nationalacademies.org/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Quality/IntegrativeMed/Integrative%20Medicine%20and%20Patient%20Centered%20Care.pdf. Accessed August 17, 2015.
  3. Elwyn G, Lloyd A, Joseph-Williams N, et al. Option Grids: shared decision making made easier. Patient Educ Counsel. 2013;90(2):207-212.

This article originally appeared on MPR