“I think that all physicians should understand the benefits that can come from making sure that opportunities are made available to patients who have the means and desire to donate,” Dr. Jagsi said. “Not only do these donations make it possible to advance research and patient care, but they also provide an opportunity for patients to feel empowered as partners in the battle against a disease that has afflicted them or a loved one.”
Doctors need training to understand how they can be helpful without jeopardizing the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship, in which there is an inherent power asymmetry, she said.
“Physicians are understandably ambivalent about soliciting donations from patients,” Dr. Keith Nicholls of the University of South Alabama in Mobile, who was not part of the new study, told Reuters Health by email.
Doctors more often said that solicitation happens at their hospital, but they do not do it themselves, which may mean that they are underreporting their own involvement, he said.
“The physicians’ financial security is directly dependent on the financial condition of the organization in which they practice,” Dr. Nicholls said. “More donations mean more raises, more resources, more status, etc.”