Improving Empathy and Relational Skills

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT01304030
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : February 25, 2011
Last Update Posted : February 25, 2011
Information provided by:
Massachusetts General Hospital

Brief Summary:
Our research hypothesis is that residents who participate in the empathy and relational skills training modules will significantly improve in these skills as compared to a control group of residents who receive residency training as usual that includes the current standard training in the doctor-patient relationship. To evaluate this hypothesis, we will use a two-pronged approach to assessment. The first prong is the residents' self assessment of empathy and the second is from the patients' perspective.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Empathy Behavioral: Empathy Training Modules Behavioral: Residency Training as usual Not Applicable

Detailed Description:
The study design is a randomized controlled trial assigning resident physicians (N=100) to either: (a) empathy and relational skills training; or (b) control group receiving standard residency training as usual. Over the course of six weeks, each resident physician in the experimental group will receive three 60-minute training sessions focused on empathy and relational skills (the residents assigned to the control condition will receive standard residency training as usual). The emerging neuroscience of emotions and empathy has provided the neurobiological and physiological bases for our Empathy Training Modules to enhance patient-doctor communication. These innovative modules provide the basic science and video modeling for empathy training. Based on cutting edge mirror neuron research, our training modules offer a novel approach to empathy and relational skills training that teaches physicians about the neurobiology and physiology of emotions in difficult or stressful patient interactions. We have developed professionally produced high definition training modules that portray difficult patient-physician interactions. Importantly, these videos also include physiological displays of emotion for both members of the dyad so that one can easily observe the degree to which patient and physician are physiologically concordant or discordant with one another. The empathy training is conducted at a deeper level of physiological awareness and regulation that promises to be more effective than traditional didactic teaching by integrating the technology of psychophysiology. The goal of raising awareness of physiologic indices during a patient-doctor interaction is to present an objective measure of emotional response to both explicit and implicit stimuli, which promises to be a powerful teaching tool to enhance empathic physician behaviors.

Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 99 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Official Title: Improving Empathy and Relational Skills in Resident Physicians: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Study Start Date : February 2010
Actual Primary Completion Date : December 2010
Actual Study Completion Date : December 2010

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Experimental Group
The experimental group receives Empathy Training. The control Group receives residency training as usual
Behavioral: Empathy Training Modules
The Empathy Training Modules utilize translational research in emotion expression basic science, physiology of emotions, decoding facial expressions and self-regulation skills as pertaining to management of medical and surgical patients.
Other Name: E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. (TM)
Active Comparator: Control Group
The control group receives residency training as usual
Behavioral: Residency Training as usual
Residents will receive their typical didactic and clinical education
Other Name: Residency Training

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Consultation and Relational Empathy Measure (CARE) measure [ Time Frame: Up to 5 weeks (this is an average) ]
    At baseline: (1) Residents will complete the CARE measure (2) 10 patients in each resident's clinic will rate their encounter using the CARE Measure; (3) Residents will receive the Empathy and Relational Training Modules or residency training as usual. At the six-week endpoint: (4) residents will complete the CARE measure and (5) patients will complete the CARE measure after the clinic visit.

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Jefferson Empathy Scale Mehrabian Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES) (30 items) 2.Jefferson Empathy Scale (20 items 3. Neuroscience of Emotions Assessment 4. Ekman Facial Expression Decoding Assessment [ Time Frame: Prospective ]
    The Mehrabian BEES Measures baseline empathy. The Jefferson Scale measures physician attitudes about the importance of empathy in clinical medical care. The Neuroscience of Emotions Test measures knowledge of basic science of emotions. The Ekman test measures ability to decode subtle facial expressions.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

Ages Eligible for Study:   20 Years to 60 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

All medical and surgical residents who are based at Massachusetts General Hospital will be eligible to participate in the study.

Exclusion Criteria:

Residents who are rotating at sites other then Massachusetts General Hospital Residents who are on rotations that do not include clinical care

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT01304030

United States, Massachusetts
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 021114
Sponsors and Collaborators
Massachusetts General Hospital
Principal Investigator: Helen Riess, MD Massachusetts General Hospital

Responsible Party: Helen Riess, Massachusetts General Hospital Identifier: NCT01304030     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 2009P001599
P001599 ( Other Grant/Funding Number: Risk Management Foundation )
First Posted: February 25, 2011    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: February 25, 2011
Last Verified: February 2011

Keywords provided by Massachusetts General Hospital: