Dying patients: a challenge to their physicians and consultation psychiatry

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It is the belief of this author that psychiatry in general and consultation psychiatry, in particular, have much to offer patients and physicians through the sometimes difficult process of living and always difficult process of dying. The traditional biological model of disease of the early 1900s is totally inadequate in today's complex industrialized urban world. Psychiatry has demonstrated its ability to expand this outworn biological model of disease into a comprehensive biopsychosocial model of illness, where the patient, as a human being, is not neglected. However, it is often much more difficult in actual practice as a busy internist or family practitioner to consider the psychosocial factors in addition to the patient's biological problems. The success or failure of future attempts to provide more holistic care for our patients, epecially when they are dying, will rest with us. As military physicians, we must be prepared to offer such care in times of peace and of war. The circumstances of dying, either of terminal illness or in combat, are always less significant than the basic issues and realities that patients and physicians must confront. The authors also must understand the nature of our commitment as physicians. The new approaches to teaching physicians about the psychosocial aspects of illness are intended to preserve feelings of compassion and empathy; they cannot instill feelings and values that never existed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-680
Number of pages7
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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