McTighe AJ, DiTomasso RA, Felgoise S, Hojat M. Correlation Between Standardize Patients’ Perceptions of Osteopathic Medical Students and Students’ Self-Rated Empathy. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2016;116(10):640–646. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2016.127.
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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.
Keywords: empathy, interpersonal skills, medical education, patient-physician relationship, standardized patient
a Results of multivariate analysis of variance indicated significance: Wilks λ=.910; F6,1414=11.33; P<.001.
b The Jefferson Scale of Empathy medical student version (JSE-S) contained 20 items with a range of responses from 1 to 7 (total possible scores ranged from 20, indicating a low empathy score, to 140, indicating a high empathy score).
c The Jefferson Scale of Patient Perceptions of Physician Empathy (JSPPPE) contained 5 items with a range of responses from 1 to 7 (total possible scores ranged from 5, indicating a low empathy score, to 35, indicating a high empathy score).
d The Professionalism Assessment Ratings Scale (PARS) contained 8 items with a range of responses from 1 to 9 (total possible scores ranged from 8, indicating low relationship qualities and clinical examination competencies, to 72, indicating high relationship qualities and clinical examination competencies).
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