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Use of Theater to Invoke Empathy and Reduce Bias in Medical Students

This study has been completed.
The Arnold P. Gold Foundation
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
University of California, Davis Identifier:
First received: November 26, 2012
Last updated: May 25, 2017
Last verified: May 2017
The effect of medical humanities on medical student bias and clinical management is unclear. This study characterized medical student attitudes toward obese individuals and whether reading a play employing empathic characters can modulate negative reactions.

Condition Intervention
Medical Student Bias Behavioral: Medical Lecture Behavioral: Dramatic Reading

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Other

Further study details as provided by University of California, Davis:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Explicit fat bias [ Time Frame: four months ]
    Assessment of conscious bias against fat people (unit of measure from 11 to 99).

  • implicit fat bias [ Time Frame: four months ]
    Measurement using the implicit association test (IAT) with scores from -2.0 to +2.0.

  • empathy scale [ Time Frame: four months ]
    Score of Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE) from 20 to 180.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Patient-Centered Care [ Time Frame: four months ]
    Open-ended question on the clinical management of an asymptomatic, obese, elderly woman who is otherwise healthy, with coding for a response that is either patient-centered (ie: asking patient preferences and goals) or prescriptive (ie: telling the patient to diet and/or exercise).

  • Appraisal of obesity [ Time Frame: four months ]
    An open-ended question asking participants whether they felt obesity was primarily an issue of discrimination (ie: civil rights) or a public health concern (ie: medical).

Enrollment: 129
Study Start Date: August 2012
Study Completion Date: November 2012
Primary Completion Date: October 2012 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Theater
1-hour dramatic reading of "The Most Massive Woman Wins"
Behavioral: Dramatic Reading
Active Comparator: Lecture
1-hour lecture on the medical management of obese patients
Behavioral: Medical Lecture


Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Senior
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • medical student at UC Davis, UC Irvine, or Mayo Medical School

Exclusion Criteria:

  Contacts and Locations
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, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01739257

United States, California
UC Davis School of Medicine
Sacramento, California, United States, 95817
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of California, Davis
The Arnold P. Gold Foundation
Principal Investigator: Richard L Kravitz, MD, MSPH UC Davis School of Medicine
Study Director: Rachel Hammer, BA Mayo Medical School
Study Director: Johanna Shapiro, PhD UC Irvine School of Medicine
  More Information

Responsible Party: University of California, Davis Identifier: NCT01739257     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 254423
Study First Received: November 26, 2012
Last Updated: May 25, 2017 processed this record on September 21, 2017