Combating Obstacles to Empathy

Combating Obstacles to Empathy: A Replicable Small Group Discussion Series for Medical Students

Author: Francesca P. Kingery, M.S.1*, Alexander Bajorek, M.D. M.A.2, Amber Zimmer Deptola, M.D.3 Karen Hughes Miller, Ph.D.4, Craig Ziegler Ph.D.5, Pradip D. Patel M.D.6

Author Affiliations:

1School of Medicine, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA.

2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Boston MA, USA.

3Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.  

4Graduate Medical Education, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, USA.

5Office of Medical Education, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, USA.

6Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, USA.

Full Text Article PDF

Corresponding Author: Francesca P. Kingery, fdprib01@louisville.edu

Key Words: Medical Humanities, Bioethics, Curriculum, Student-led, Empathy, Medical Education, Pre-Clinical

 

Abstract:

The expression of humanism in patient encounters is a core component of the medical profession and evolving national medical student curriculum. Growing evidence suggests that empathetic care improves patient outcomes and diagnostic accuracy while decreasing physician stress and rates of litigation. Unfortunately, multiple recent studies using different scales and survey tools have consistently shown empathy to decrease during the third and fourth years of medical school. We developed a replicable, case-based, student and expert-driven, small-group discussion series designed to address this decline. Over two years, the series included four separate discussions over controversial topics seldom addressed by formal courses (Chronic Pain Management vs. Prescription Drug Abuse, Balancing Business and Medicine, and Domestic Violence). We utilized pre- and post-session surveys to qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate the program. Our results demonstrated significant improvement in participants’ comfort with the subject matter and desire to approach faculty and peers regarding humanistic patient care. Future and more frequent interactions, combined with optimization of the format could further uncover the utility of this program. Ultimately, we believe our discussion series could be replicated on other medical campuses.

 

Published on date: March, 2016

 

DOI: 10.15404/msrj/03.2016.0001

Citation: Kingery et al. Combating Obstacles to Empathy: A Replicable Small Group Discussion Series for Medical Students Medical Student Research Journal (2016). doi: 10.15404/msrj/03.2016.0001

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