Original Contribution  |   October 2016
Correlation Between Standardize Patients’ Perceptions of Osteopathic Medical Students and Students’ Self-Rated Empathy
Author Notes
  • From the Department of Forensics at Georgia Regional Hospital at Atlanta (Dr McTighe), the Department of Psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania (Drs DiTomasso and Felgoise), and the Center for Research in Medical Education & Health Care and the Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior at Thomas Jefferson University Sidney Kimmel Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Dr Hojat). 
  • This study is based on Dr McTighe’s doctoral dissertation in psychology. Data from this study were presented in part at OMED 2014 on October 26, 2014, in Seattle, Washington. 
  •  *Address correspondence to Adam J. McTighe, PsyD, MBA, Georgia Regional Hospital at Atlanta, 3073 Panthersville Rd, Bldg 7, Decatur, GA 30034-3828. E-mail: adampsyd@gmail.com
     
Article Information
Medical Education
Original Contribution   |   October 2016
Correlation Between Standardize Patients’ Perceptions of Osteopathic Medical Students and Students’ Self-Rated Empathy
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, October 2016, Vol. 116, 640-646. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.127
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, October 2016, Vol. 116, 640-646. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.127
Abstract

Context: The use of standardized patients (SPs) promotes and enhances interpersonal skill sets of medical students and provides a critical opportunity for students to display their relational competence during simulated patient encounters.

Objective: To investigate whether SPs’ ratings of osteopathic medical students’ empathy and interpersonal skills correlate with students’ self-rated empathy.

Methods: The study used a cross-sectional quantitative design. After SP encounters, first-, second-, and third-year osteopathic medical students self-rated empathy using the Jefferson Scale of Empathy medical student version. Standardized patients also assessed students’ empathy using the Jefferson Scale of Patient Perceptions of Physician Empathy and interpersonal skills using the Professionalism Assessment Ratings Scale.

Results: Of 780 first-, second-, and third-year students, 717 students returned the survey (91.9%). In total, 383 students were women (53.4%) and 334 were men (46.6%). Of 717 SP encounters, SPs returned surveys for 648 encounters (90.3%). Ratings from SPs regarding their perceptions of osteopathic medical students’ empathetic abilities and interpersonal skills did not correlate with students’ self-rated empathy scores. Second- and third-year students were perceived by SPs as having better-developed empathetic and interpersonal skill sets when compared with first-year students. Results of SPs’ ratings indicated that the higher the interpersonal skills, the higher the SP-perceived empathy for students across all years (r=0.66; P<.001).

Conclusion: Students’ self-rated empathy did not correlate with SP-perceived empathy. However, the findings validated that students’ core relational competencies increase as they progress through medical school.

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