Article by Dr. Garvan and Palliative Care Experts Published in JAMA Neurology

Cynthia Garvan, PhD

Congratulations to Professor and Statistician Cynthia Garvan, PhD, who is the coauthor on a Viewpoint article titled “Joy, Suffering, and the Goals of Medicine” published in the prestigious journal JAMA Neurology.

The article, published online on Dec. 7, was written with Benzi M. Kluger, MD, MS, and Robert G. Holloway, MD, MPH, of the Departments of Neurology and Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York.

Lead author Dr. Kluger is an international expert on palliative care who writes a blog devoted to his humanistic work. He has been friends and colleagues with Dr. Garvan since taking a biostatistics class with her while he was at UF for a research fellowship.

“While we often talk about research, we just as often talk about even more important topics, like love and joy,” he said of his relationship with Dr. Garvan. “When I began my shift in career focus to palliative care, I intended to get deeper into the suffering of patients and families. I was surprised to see that I also was hearing much more about the importance of joy in their lives. Over time, I began to incorporate joy into the questions I asked patients and found that encouraging joy was often my only tool to help people in coping with their situation.”

Dr. Kluger said he hopes the paper encourages and empowers clinicians to begin talking about joy, use joy as a clinical tool, and perform research on the therapeutic potential of joy and other positive emotions.

“The need for joy doesn’t stop with the onset of illness,” he said. “By being solely focused on reducing suffering and disease we are ignoring at least half of what makes life worth living.”

JAMA Neurology is an international peer-reviewed journal that is part of the highly respected JAMA Network that includes JAMA, which is the most widely circulated general medical journal in the world.