Empathy in medicine self and other in medical education: Initial emotional intelligence trend analysis widens the lens around empathy and burnout

Gail Singer-Chang*, Fanglong Dong, Michael Seffinger, Natalie Nevins, Janice Blumer, Helen Musharbash, Scott Helf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Context: Integral to emotional intelligence (EI), empathy is frequently studied in medical students. While important, given the implications for patient safety and physician well-being, traits such as self-regard may also affect physician efficacy. Emotional intelligence offers a holistic framework from which to study empathy, allowing it to be explored with coexisting traits and offering opportunities to identify related risk factors. Objective: To identify trends in osteopathic medical student EI to help mitigate burnout, with specific attention to empathy and self-regard. Methods: Eight hundred eighty-five students at Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific from classes 2014-2016 were offered the Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 (EQ-i) at the start of school, completion of their second year, and at graduation. Participants completed all 3 inventories, yielding a response rate of 16.3%. Repeated measurement analysis of variance analyses were conducted using SAS software for Windows version 9.3. Results: A total of 144 students participated. The total EI score shifted from mean (SD) 100.2 (12.4) at baseline to 96.1 (12.8) midway to 96.8 (13.3) at graduation (P=.0161) with significant decreases between baseline and midway (P<.001) and baseline and final administrations (P<.001). Empathy declined from 103 (13.1) to 99.9 (12.7) to 99.6 (12.6) (P=.0481) with significant decreases between baseline and midway (P<.001) and baseline and final administrations (P<.001). Self-regard declined from 98.6 (14.1) to 95.8 (15.1) to 95.5 (14.7) (P=.135) with significant decreases between baseline and midway (P=.0021) and baseline and final administrations (P<.001). Conclusion: This study’s findings support further investigation of potential roles played by EI, empathy, and self-regard in physician burnout.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-394
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Osteopathic Association
Volume120
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Burnout
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Medical education
  • Psychology

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