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Research profiles cancer doctors' emotions and their effects

KTTC, May 25, 2012

Some cancer doctors may build up emotional walls—distancing themselves from the patients they can't save—to avoid grief, sadness and even despair, new research shows. In a profession where death and dying "are part and parcel of the work," study author Leeat Granek said grieving is mixed with "feelings of self-doubt, failure and powerlessness that come from the idea that doctors are responsible for their patients' lives and for making their treatment decisions." Twenty oncologists at three adult cancer centers in Ontario described how they dealt—or didn't deal—with grief, and its effect on their professional practice and personal lives. The report was published online May 21 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.