Feb. 3, 2012
Wall Street Journal
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Osteopathic physicians (DOs) have long realized the importance lifestyle factors, home and work environments play in our overall health (“Doctors Track Patients’ Mood, Social Life to Manage Illness,” Jan. 31). While there are many similarities in training between DOs and MDs, DOs learn from their first day of medical school to combine medical technology with their ears to listen carefully to their patients and with their eyes to see their patients as a whole person. DOs also receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system, which, through touch, provides us with a better understanding of the ways that an illness or injury in one part of the body can affect another.
The emotional needs of patients are just as crucial as their physical needs. It is not enough for a physician to ask patients where they feel pain. The physician should dig deeper to learn how the pain has interfered with a patient’s life, such as general activity, mood and sleep. If a mother’s back pain is preventing her from sitting in the stands to watch her son’s baseball game, the fear of disappointing her son could be the culprit behind her signs of depression rather than an undiagnosed mental disorder.
There is more to a person’s health than the results of their lab work. By taking the time to ask questions about all aspects of patients’ lives, physicians will become better equipped to provide the highest standard of care to their patients. This is a philosophy that osteopathic medicine was founded on more than 130 years ago, and that continues to guide the more than 78,000 DOs in practice in the United States today.
Martin S. Levine, DO
American Osteopathic Association