Comprehensive listening: a tool to humanize Primary Healthcare and medical specialties

General Practicioner

(Martha Dominguez de Gouveia, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Júlia Santos do Cabo, a 3rd year medical student at Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo,
Brazil. She is
 affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The subjective aspects of a patient during a clinical encounter are inherent in medical practice. The union of these aspects helps to form the individual as a holistic and integral entity. 1

Sometimes the doctor will be able to identify certain problems of the patient just by the way he is emotionally, which often the tests can not diagnose. It seems insignificant, but for patients, this display of affection and attention makes a lot of difference, especially for those who are facing more complex treatments. 2

It is crucial to have a differentiated view of the patient always aiming for his or her well-being, after all, hospitalization is seen differently by each one, and listening to is a great tool for better working, as it gives patient safety, decreases anxieties. 3

According to scholars, the individual often only needs someone to listen so that he can order and organize his own experience, and even if the solution to his problems seems distant or even impossible, simple speech causes a sense of immediate relief; sensitive listening presupposes an inversion of attention. Before situating a person in “her place” one begins by recognizing it in “her being”, within the quality of complex person. 5

With this in mind, we at IFMSA Brazil PUC SP invite the Life Valuation Center (CVV), a national philanthropic entity that promotes emotional relief to people, teach “The Art of Listening” Seminar, a comprehensive listening course in the techniques of care of the CVV volunteers and the Carl Rogers studies, for the students of the medical course, aiming at enabling the person-centered care, so characteristic of Primary Health Care, but which can be applied in the different medical specialties.

The empathic ability does not seem to receive enough attention in the teaching of medical psychology and deserves to be better developed during the training of this health professional. 6 An empathic physician seeks in the best possible way to serve as an instrument of improvement for the individual who search in a moment of need or helplessness. 7

The course reached the expected result showing its relevance in the formation of young physicians, who were initially insecure in supporting patients and their families in moments of emotional fragility, but throughout the course they developed an ability to understand, without judgments and in a welcoming way, strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.

The invitation to learn to listen encourages young doctors to apply what PHC seems to be intrinsic in all areas of their lives, bringing humanized, person-centered treatment to many specialties, thus reducing the chasm that separates prevention from the most complex treatments.


  1. Mendes Nascimento G, Luiz De Almeida Júnior S, Márcio A, Cordeiro T, Iracema SI, Moura De Carvalho G, et al. Avaliação da Relação Médico-Paciente em Alunos Internos de um Curso de Medicina Evaluation of the Medical-Patient Relationship in Internal Students of a Medicine Course. 2018;42(1):159–68.
  2. E-saúde. Como construir uma boa relação médico paciente? – E-saúde [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2018 Aug 8]. Available from:
  3. Botan L. A importância da escuta no ambiente hospitalar [Internet]. Rede Humaniza SUS. 2009 [cited 2018 Aug 8]. Available from:
  4. Mesquita AC, Carvalho EC de, Mesquita AC, Carvalho EC de. Therapeutic Listening as a health intervention strategy: an integrative review. Rev da Esc Enferm da USP [Internet]. 2014 Dec [cited 2018 Aug 8];48(6):1127–36. Available from:
  5. Barbier R, Paris U. Escuta sensível na formação de profissionais de saúde (*). 2002;1–17.
  6. Barros PS, Falcone EMO, Pinho VD. Avaliação da empatia médica na percepção de médicos e pacientes em contextos público e privado de saúde. Arq Ciência da Saúde. 2011;18(1):36–43.
  7. Gonzaga I, Carvalho M De, Cunha G, Cantarelli F. Analysis of Empathy Levels of Medicine Students. 2018;42(1):150–8.

About the author

Júlia is a 3th year medical student at Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo,
Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students
Associations (IFMSA Brazil), working as the local vice president of IFMSA
Brazil PUC SP. She is interested in promoting mental health and self-care, is a
volunteer at the Center for Appreciation of Life and believes in health as a
means of suicide prevention.


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