This paper takes departure from sociology of emotions to explore the training of empathy and empathic response in accelerated cancer care. The paper focuses on a training workshop in empathic communication during which doctors from a cancer clinic learn to recognise and control the emotional frame of doctor-patient interactions. Through a descriptive analysis, it addresses how communication techniques are rehearsed and it discusses the effects of this training. It is shown that the performance of communicating empathically relies on standardised scripts, which direct and cultivate the conduct of doctors. The paper concludes that contemporary reforming drives in public health care insert a renewed focus on humanistic values in medical interaction between doctors and patients, such as a focus on doctors’ modes of engagement in these interactions. However, these values increasingly become the aim of techniques of micro-management such as qualitative measurement and performance audit. In other words, attempts to improve softer dimensions of medical services entail a further standardisation of these dimensions.
|Journal||Tidsskrift for forskning i sygdom og samfund|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|