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VANCOUVER - A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, but patients feeling aches and pains can wind up with a remedy more like cod liver oil if they're not on good terms with their doctor.
A University of Northern B.C. professor who is studying the impact of the clinician-patient relationship on how health professionals rate pain suggests it decreases if the clinician doesn't like the patient.
Pain sufferers often take issue with their treatment, which is why the research is so important, said psychology professor and pain expert Ken Prkachin.
"A specific complaint being 'Nobody believes me, no one is taking me seriously,'" Prkachin described in an interview.
"You really get that sense when you talk to patients, maybe people are being downgraded because they're also disliked."
It means people with invisible pain — such as bad backs, as opposed to broken legs — may not get adequate treatment for the problem if the doctor disregards their feelings, he said.
"A good case can be made ... that is going to demoralize patients and contribute to very testy patient-professional relationships," Prkachin said.