A good doctor must pay attention to cultural and anthropological factors that influence a patient's lifestyle and any resulting need to adjust personal lifestyle in the interests of health. Cross-cultural differences in the patient's expectations must also be taken into account, accepted patterns of treatment and health outcomes. Often, a family physician must be prepared to address psychological problems rather than the presence of a clear-cut organic disease of the type anticipated by those formulating evidence-based treatment recommendations. The quality of an individual medical practice and levels of health achieved can be rated by both the patients who are treated and peers from the health professions, although the views of both groups must be accepted with caution. The quality of any given practice can be enhanced by considering the usual motivators, stressors and personal qualities of a successful physician. Humans have undergone a progressive evolutionary adaptation to their immediate environment over many millennia. Illnesses thus arise because the current generation of homo sapiens no longer maintains the life-style to which it became so well adapted over the centuries.
A good physician recognises the problems inherent in our current urban lifestyle and seeks to maximise the individual's health potential by focusing on preventive medicine and the development of health habits such as exercise and diet that are more appropriate to our constitutional background. This book explores the criteria necessary for competent patient care and compassion to address the emotional needs of the patient.