Reviewer: Vincent F Carr, DO, MSA, FACC, FACP (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
Description: This excellent book attempts to help those in everyday clinical practice to recognize a psychological issue underlying a patient visit and how to focus on the patient without labeling the problem as psychological. The previous edition was published in 2002, the first in 1986.
Purpose: The stated purpose is to give primary care physicians the ability to recognize and address patients' concerns at an early and manageable stage. The authors specifically state this is not a book about long-term or in-depth counseling. This is a fresh approach in a preventative manner of thought, and references a newly published article on the success of the approach.
Audience: Primary care practitioners are the primary focus of this book. Having said that, learning about and reconsidering one's approach to caring and compassion is valuable for all healthcare providers. The authors are well known and honored in the family medicine community.
Features: One of the central themes is the BATHE technique, offered by the authors as a way to foster patient positive thinking. (This is an interview technique that allows the physician to assess the Background situation, the patient's Affect, the problem that is most Troubling for the patient, and the manner in which the patient is Handling the problem. It concludes with the physician's response that conveys Empathy.) The first three chapters give a historical perspective, and the fourth introduces the BATHE technique. Subsequent chapters delve into situations in which the technique may be useful, putting forth specific ideas such as: the practitioner is not responsible for solving the patient's difficulties, that is the patient's responsibility, and how to "end a session."
Assessment: This is an interesting addition and ancillary reading for a primary care practitioner's library. It is worthwhile reading to remind us why we became physicians.