Basic acts of kindness and compassion for cancer patients can go a long way, especially in speeding up their healing process and reducing pain.

In 2014, Dignity Health, in partnership with Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, conducted a review of evidence-based works of literature exploring the impact of acts of kindness in the quality of healthcare.

Neurosurgeon Dr. James Doty, the research author, said the review suggested that healthcare, when delivered with kindness and compassion, can greatly reduce the duration and severity of common colds. More importantly, in a broader context, it can lead to better patient outcomes, reduced pain, and shorter hospital stays.

"In every domain of life and especially in healthcare where fundamentally we are focused on those suffering, kindness and compassion have a profound positive effect," said Doty. "Human kindness, science, and technology form a powerful combination that can save lives, create the environment for healing and by doing so decrease cost."

Above All, Be Kind

Specifically, kindness in the healthcare setting affects patients in at least six different ways. The study highlighted that patients are twice as likely to listen to medical advice if their doctor is a good communicator.

When patients require anesthesia for any operation, CCARE urged anesthesiologists to boost their patient's confidence so they can take 50 percent less of the drugs required.

Patients who feel comfortable with their care provider are also inclined to share more information about their health; thus, making diagnosis more accurate. Compassion also enables patients to recover completely and prevent them from returning to the emergency department for the same illness.

CCARE concluded that compassionate healthcare environments are found to be more effective than aspirin in preventing heart attacks or stopping smoking habits.

As it turned out, kindness does have positive impacts not only on patients but also on caregivers. Caregivers working in kindness and compassion-oriented culture tend to be more engaged, less exhausted, and more resilient to stress.

Caring For Cancer

Leonard Berry, a distinguished professor of marketing at the University of Texas Mays Business School, said kindness and compassion are much needed in cancer care setting being a "high-emotion service."

Berry's study, published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, recommends six basic acts of kindness to relieve negative emotions that come with cancer diagnosis and treatment.

These six acts of kindness include deep listening, empathy, generosity in discretionary efforts, timely care, gentle honesty, and support for family caregivers.

"Cancer patients commonly depend on family members for assistance with medical care, daily needs and emotional support. Family caregivers themselves require training, timely assistance and emotional care to perform their role and to maintain their own health," Berry said.

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