Brief Report  |   June 2020
Empathy in Medicine Self and Other in Medical Education: Initial Emotional Intelligence Trend Analysis Widens the Lens Around Empathy and Burnout
Author Notes
  • From Western University (WesternU) of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California. At the time this article was accepted, Dr Singer-Chang was on the AOA's Osteopathic Philosophy Task Force. This appointment took place after the grant was awarded. 
  • Financial Disclosures: None reported. 
  • Support: Supported by grant No. 361613708 from the American Osteopathic Association in 2016; mini-grant from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine in 2011 for related studies; and the financial support of Steven Henriksen, PhD, Vice President of Translational Research and Biotechnology at WesternU. 
  •  *Address correspondence to Gail Singer-Chang, PsyD, MS, MA, PPS, c/o Natalie Nevins, DO, Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, 309 E 2nd St Pomona, CA 91766. Email: docchang@msn.com
     
Article Information
Brief Report   |   June 2020
Empathy in Medicine Self and Other in Medical Education: Initial Emotional Intelligence Trend Analysis Widens the Lens Around Empathy and Burnout
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, June 2020, Vol. 120, 388-394. doi:https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2020.069
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, June 2020, Vol. 120, 388-394. doi:https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2020.069
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.

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