The Relevance of Meaningful Patient Communication

Back in February, Dr. Block participated in an extended version of Robin Daly’s Yes To Life ( radio show on UK Health Radio. Titled “Pioneers in Integrative Oncology,” Dr. Block was selected to participate as one of 6 panelists who “have made a hugely significant contribution to the evolution of cancer care, paving the way for much of what is now accepted as good integrative practice.” The other participants were Dr. Bernie Siegel, Ian Gawler, Ralph Moss, PhD, Petrea King and Michael Lerner.

To listen to the show in its entirety, please visit:

Dr. Block had the opportunity to address 3 questions. We’ve posted a transcript of the two previous questions on this blog. In this post, Dr. Block answers the final question Robin asked him:

Robin: Do you have a message for integrative medicine practitioners out there that would start: “if there’s one thing I wish I learned right from the start, it is…”

Dr. Block: It’s a difficult question … but I would say to them that it’s important to heal yourself before attempting to work with others who are really suffering from illness. This is certainly true if it’s a serious, life-threatening disease like cancer. I believe it to be immensely important to be in touch with what that experience is, so that you can carry it over in the communication and the connection with a patient. I guess it’s simple to say something that we all know but we don’t always completely own; that is, that listening might be the most profound thing that we do as human beings. But when it comes to healing and healthcare and people who are suffering with serious illnesses, listening on a deeper level is even more important. And yet, far too often in my profession you find medical doctors who have learned to shut down and shut off, who are sometimes so lost in their own communications, that they forget why they’re sitting there and that people need to be not only heard but embraced in whatever experience they’re going through.

So having entered integrative care because of my own ill health number one, and because of the loss of three relatives to cancer between my 8th and 16th birthdays, I was already deeply affected in that way. It’s a little bit difficult for me to answer that question without sounding like, been there, done that, and that is certainly not my intention The truth of the matter is that we can never learn that lesson enough, and particularly those of us who have devoted our careers to others’ survival, others’ health, others’ healing, there’s an ongoing necessity to own that lesson.


Dr. Block writes more about the relevance of meaningful patient communication and why he believes “it is incumbent on all healthcare providers to reinforce and enhance whatever recuperative powers and emotional vigor a patient possesses,” in his blog, titled: “The Myth of ‘False Hope:’ Why Doctors Should Not Tell Patients There Is No Hope:”


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