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April 14, 2005


Institute focuses on doctor-patient relationship

To the editor:

We were pleased to see the University Senate’s extended discussion of the doctor-patient relationship at UPMC (University Times, March 31). There are very good data documenting the association between a good doctor-patient relationship, and adherence, clinical outcomes and malpractice suits. Because of its importance, in 2003, Senior Vice Chancellor Arthur Levine started an Institute for Doctor-Patient Communication to enhance the teaching, research and clinical application of patient-provider communication at the University of Pittsburgh. The steering committee consists of a multi-disciplinary group of researchers and teachers.

The institute has been very active in its first two years. We developed a list-server to inform faculty of national conferences and research. To highlight the various communication research and teaching already being conducted at the University, we held a campus-wide retreat. We have developed and teach courses on communication for medical students, residents and fellows; we also teach a course for junior faculty on how to teach communication skills. We also hold a monthly seminar series consisting of “works in progress” presentations by junior faculty. Finally, with support from the senior vice chancellor, we have started a pilot project award program designed to support junior faculty in preliminary work that will serve as the foundation for future significant investigator-initiated grant applications. In 2004 we gave our first award to Jennifer Lingler (University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law) for her project titled “ENACT: Evaluating the Nature of Alzheimer’s Communication Triads.”

We encourage individuals who are interested in this important area to access our web site,, or to contact us at

Robert M. Arnold


Laurel Milberg


Bruce Ling


Institute for Doctor-Patient Communication


Finding health information

To the editor:

I am writing in response to comments by Margaret Smith Washington at the March 23 Senate plenary session (“How can we heal the doctor-patient relationship?” University Times, March 31). Ms. Washington stressed how important it is for patients to learn about their condition and to take an active role in managing their health.

The University of Pittsburgh community has a superb on-line resource, created by librarians of the Health Sciences Library System (HSLS), for finding the most up-to-date health information. The HSLS consumer health information web site ( offers access to high-quality consumer health information resources for all ages. Features include disease and drug information, health statistics, on-line medical dictionaries, health screening tools and quality guidelines. Each page provides local, state and national web sites and direct access, where applicable, to on-line databases and other information. The “quick links” menu on each page permits easy access to core resources, such as MEDLINEplus from the National Library of Medicine. There are also direct links to several major daily health news sources, including CNN, The New York Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as well as links to Pittsburgh area television health news reports.

Bookmark this page and consult it often!

Barbara A. Epstein


Health Sciences Library System


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