Effect of a Single-Session Communication Skills Training on Empathy in Medical Students

Prima Cheryl D’souza, Smitha L. Rasquinha, Trina Lucille D’souza, Animesh Jain, Vaman Kulkarni, Keshava Pai

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Abstract

Objective: Empathy scores have been found to decline over the years spent in medical school. The authors aimed to evaluate the change in empathy levels in medical students following a single-session communication skills training. Methods: Eighty-two second-year medical students were randomized into intervention and control groups. The intervention comprised of a single-session empathetic communication skills training using PowerPoint, video clips, and roleplay. Empathy was assessed using the Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Student version (JSE) at baseline, post-intervention (for the intervention group), and at follow up after 3 weeks. Results: The mean JSE score of the intervention group was 109.7 ± 11.8 at baseline, with significant improvement post-intervention (114.2 ± 10.6, p = 0.014). However, the score declined at the 3-week follow-up (106.8 ± 11.8). The mean baseline JSE score of the control group was 107.5 ± 12.4, with a decline at follow-up (101.8 ± 16.0). Though both groups showed a decline in the JSE score at follow-up, the decline was significant only for the control group (p = 0.020), which did not receive the training. Conclusions: The study showed significant improvement immediately, and lower decline at follow-up, in empathy levels following a communication skills training. The findings suggest a need to incorporate a regular training program into the existing medical curriculum, to enhance empathy and prevent its decline over the years.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 01-01-2019

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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