Relationship With Patient Can Determine Treatment Success

Aaron Levin


An understanding of the patient’s values and the place of medication in a wider therapeutic program in which medication is one tool for recovery should inform a psychiatrist’s judgment.

Abstract Teaser

Medications may help psychiatric patients get better, but “getting better” is a “profoundly value-laden term,” said Ronald Diamond, M.D., a professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin.
“ ‘Better’ means different things to different people,” said Diamond at APA’s Institute on Psychiatric Services in New York in October.
“You and the patient might disagree not on what is happening but on its value,” he said. “It could be subjective improvement for the patient, better functioning, symptom improvement, reduced distress, or simply not getting worse.”
Medications are a tool for recovery and can make nonpharmacological treatments more effective, possibly by making the brain less sensitive to stimuli, he said.
“Medications are never a goal of treatment; rather, they can help patients reach their own goals,” he said. “Ambivalence about medications is normal, but people will take them if they feel they will help them and won’t if they don’t.”
All medications have potential risks as well as benefits, so side effects are best seen from the patient’s point of view. To read more, click here.