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Mike Jenkins' letter1 analysing patients' reasons for spontaneous handshaking made interesting reading and, while I think his conclusions are compeling, he should have prefaced his report by emphasising the importance of handshaking for all consultations in this context.
I believe that a form of physical contact with patients of every age is important; it is both bonding and comforting for the patient, and it needs to be no more than a reassuring hand on the arm as the patient enters or leaves the room. This is particularly important when physical examination does not take place, such as in a psychiatric consultation.
While I applaud Dr Jenkins' insight into the social behaviour of his patients, I surely hope that he wil also offer all his patients this critical human touch.