Getting to Yes, And



Stephen Trzeciak and Anthony Mazzarelli

Subscribe on

Kelly talks to Doctors Stephen Trzeciak and Anthony Mazzarelli about their new book "Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence That Caring Makes A Difference."

My wife and I helped create an improvisation for caregivers program that uses improvisational exercises to give greater agency to individuals so that they can collaborate, connect and communicate more effectively - and you cite a study that shows how truly important this is to better health outcomes.

“It's one of the longest studies, if not the longest study, that we know of. It went on for 80 years and they looked at male teenagers at Harvard. And they followed them over time. They did blood tests, they did all kinds of different testing. And what they found is the biggest predictor of happiness and health and whether people even lived into their eighties, was when they looked at them in their fifties and  it wasn't their cholesterol or whether they had diabetes or any of the things you would think of as far as health. What predicted whether they were happy and healthy and alive in their eighties, was the strength and their satisfaction in their relationships in their fifties. That was the big predictor. And you know, that really is the common denominator between I think the experience that you and your wife have had Improvisation  in the medical situations and what we talk about in compassionomics.”

And the problem today is that we have study after study that shows a looming problem in the area of compassion in healthcare.

“There's evidence now in the era of electronic health records that physicians and other healthcare providers spend more time looking into computer screens than looking patients in the eyes. And when we put all this data together with the data for the epidemic of burnout among healthcare providers there's evidence that more than one third of healthcare providers have a high degree of depersonalization due to burn out. So it's an inability to make a personal connection with patients that can lead to callous or uncaring behavior. When you put all that together, there is an overwhelming signal that there is an erosion of compassion in healthcare and what we call a compassion crisis.”

A lot of people talk about the importance of empathy - how is empathy different from compassion?

“So scientists define compassion as the emotional response to another's pain or suffering involving an authentic desire to help. So there's a closely related term: empathy, which is a bit different. Empathy is the sensing, detecting, understanding and feeling of another's emotions and seeing things from their perspective. But compassion goes one step further; compassion is taking action to relieve, it's a responsive action to relieve someone's pain or suffering to some extent, to whatever extent possible.”

Related Episodes