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A Piece of My Mind |

Filling Buckets

Matthew J. Press, MD, MSc1; Timothy J. Judson, MPH2; Allan S. Detsky, MD, PhD3
[+] Author Affiliations
1Division of Health Policy and Economics, Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, and Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York
2Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York
3Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation and Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
JAMA. 2014;311(18):1859-1860. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.2648.
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The idea that love is the “secret of quality” in health care, which might be viewed skeptically were it not proposed by the revered health care quality pioneer Avedis Donabedian, conjures a lesson from a children’s book, entitled Fill A Bucket.2 The book discusses how everyone is born with an “invisible bucket,” which represents a person’s mental and emotional self. People’s buckets are filled by acts of kindness and love and are depleted by negativity and disrespect. Having a full bucket makes us feel happy and helps us fill other people’s buckets. An empty bucket brings a host of negative emotions, which can lead to behavior that empties other people’s buckets.


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