Doctors Should Do ‘Biopsychosocial’ Biopsies, Where They Learn Who Their Patients Are as People

By Kathleen McCarthy posted 08-24-2021 16:51


“The patient was a college student newly admitted to our inpatient psychiatric unit. Her boyfriend had dumped her by text and then ghosted her. She got tipsy, swallowed a handful of pills and sent several “goodbye” messages on social media. … A psychiatry resident (doctor-in-training) whom I was supervising took a thorough history, and then reported back to me about the patient’s symptoms, medical history, physical exam and laboratory findings. The resident had clearly been caring and had done a good job. ‘So what was the breakup about?” I asked him. … The resident stammered a bit, looked uncomfortable and replied, ‘I thought that was too personal to ask about.’ … Doctors don’t hesitate to invade patients’ bodies but are often reluctant to discover who the patient is as a person. … The problem is that these personal matters are what many patients—not just psychiatric ones—often need and want to talk about.” (By Michael W. Kahn, June 6, 2021)





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