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Brief training program improves resident physicians' empathy with patients
Date:5/7/2012

rticipants who completed the training course showed significant improvement in patient ratings of their empathic behavior, while the control group showed a decline in empathy during the study period. Training-group participants also had significantly greater improvement in knowledge of the mechanisms underlying empathy and in their ability to perceive and decode facial expression of emotion. There were no differences between the groups in self-reported attitudes about the importance of empathy or in improved empathy outside of patient interactions. Participants in the training course were overwhelmingly positive about the benefits of the course.

"This is the first study to show that a neurobiologically informed training program results in statistically significant improvement at the level of patient perception, without necessarily increasing the time physicians spend with patients," Riess says. "We were pleased to find this improvement could be accomplished with only three 60-minute training modules, something that is critically important with the time constraints faced by all training programs. Because it would be difficult to offer this training to all of our residency programs, we've created a web-based version to enable medical providers and residency program directors everywhere to incorporate this training into their programs."


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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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