Singer-Chang G, Dong F, Seffinger M, Nevins N, Blumer J, Musharbash H, Helf S. Empathy in Medicine Self and Other in Medical Education: Initial Emotional Intelligence Trend Analysis Widens the Lens Around Empathy and Burnout. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2020;120(6):388–394. doi: https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2020.069.
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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.
To identify trends in osteopathic medical student EI to help mitigate burnout, with specific attention to empathy and self-regard.
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.
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).
This study's findings support further investigation of potential roles played by EI, empathy, and self-regard in physician burnout.
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