The small study involved 10 lung cancer patients and their interactions with their doctors. These interactions at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Houston were recorded and researchers later analyzed whether doctors were able to show empathy to patients who were suffering a near-fatal illness.
Lead researcher Dr. Diane Morse said that doctors often fell short when it came to provide emotional support to these patients who appeared to be searching for it.
"When doctors do provide empathy, it doesn't make the interaction take longer. All that we're asking physicians to think about doing is to acknowledge what they hear," she added.
The details of the study appear in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.