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Magical thinking: Its effect on emergency medical care.

Magical thinking is a cognitive process characterized by beliefs in supernatural causality and the power of rituals. Grounded in personal convictions rather than objective reality, it involves subjective beliefs rather than magic tricks. Magical thinking's effects range from potentially positive, such as bringing hope and comfort, to negative consequences, including delays in seeking appropriate medical care and refusing evidence-based treatments. This article provides an overview of magical thinking, including its prevalence, diverse forms, and influence on patients, families, and emergency physicians (EPs). This article offers guidelines for recognizing signs of magical thinking and emphasizes the importance of respectful and empathetic interactions with patients and their families. Highlighting both the benefits and detriments of magical thinking in Emergency Medical (EM) care, the article discusses the knowledge and tools needed to optimize patient outcomes. It acknowledges the varying belief systems and cultural practices that contribute to the prevalence of magical thinking. For physicians and other EM professionals, addressing magical thinking requires cultural competence and empathetic engagement. Active listening and shared decision-making are essential to promote positive patient outcomes. By recognizing and understanding magical thinking and fostering effective communication, EPs can navigate the delicate balance of addressing patients' beliefs while delivering evidence-based care.

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