The Physician-Patient Relationship in Dementia Care

David M. Blass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Medical care of patients with dementia often occurs within a physician-patient relationship whose features differ from relationships with patients without dementia. Many basic assumptions of the physician-patient relationship may not completely hold true, and certain aspects of the patient role may be shared by others besides the patient. For example, the entire premise of consent to the patient role may be inapplicable to patients who lack insight into their illness. In addition, caring for cognitively impaired patients who do not comprehend the purpose of the physician-patient interaction may render physicians vulnerable to losing empathy with their patients and objectifying them. This can lead to viewing patients as collections of symptoms rather than as humans suffering with illnesses and burdens. The fact that certain medical interventions, such as treatment of neuropsychiatric disturbances that do not trouble the patient, may appear to be initiated for the primary purpose of alleviating caregiver emotional stress also affects the physician-patient relationship. The present review examines how this relationship may be altered and presents a framework within which these alterations can be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-548
Number of pages4
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Physician-patient relationship
  • dementia care
  • diagnostic disclosure
  • paternalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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