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Empathy Training Using Improvisational Comedy: Impact on Multidisciplinary Education among Health Professions Students

Purpose: Determine the impact of improvisation training on self-reported and observed measures of empathy among a multidisciplinary group of health professions students

Background: Provider empathy improves patient outcomes. The most effective technique for promoting empathy remains unknown. Improvisation training may improve cognitive and affective empathy by enhancing one’s ability to react to the observed experience of others. Improvisation workshops have been shown to improve empathy in OB/GYN residents. We aimed to evaluate the impact this training on self-reported and observed measures of empathy within a multidisciplinary group of health professions students.

Methods: This is a prospective cohort study of health professions students who participated in a mixed-methods empathy training activity (improvisation exercises and case-based scenarios administered by standardized patient actors before, during, and after the educational component). Students completed pre- and post-intervention self-reported empathy questionnaires. Trained patient actors observed student interactions and completed validated empathy questionnaires following each case-based interaction. Paired t-tests were used for within-person comparisons over time and ANOVA was used to compare changes across groups.

Results: Twenty-eight students participated (4 medical; 8 social work; 11 nursing; 5 physical therapy). Self-reported empathy scores improved significantly from pre- to post-intervention (34.3 vs 38.2, p< 0.0001) although observed empathy scores did not change (43.6 vs 42.9, p=0.65). When comparing across disciplines, there was no difference in observed empathy scores (p=0.75).

Discussions: Improvisation training improves self-reported but not observed empathy among a multidisciplinary group of health professions students. There was no difference in the efficacy of the training workshop between disciplines.

Topics: CREOG & APGO Annual Meeting, 2020, Resident, Faculty, Clerkship Director, Clerkship Coordinator, Osteopathic Faculty, Interpersonal & Communication Skills, GME, Assessment, Simulation, Team-Based Learning,

General Information


Intended
Audience
Resident,Faculty,Clerkship Director,Clerkship Coordinator,Osteopathic Faculty,
Competencies
Addressed
Interpersonal & Communication Skills,
Educational
Continuum
GME,
Educational
Focus
Assessment,Simulation,Team-Based Learning,
Clinical Focus

Author Information

Lauren Stewart, MD; Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island/Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Christina Raker, ScD; Kyle Wohlrab, MD

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