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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):
Kabir Matharu, University of California, Davis Identifier:
First received: November 26, 2012
Last updated: November 28, 2012
Last verified: November 2012
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: Open Label

Further study details as provided by Kabir Matharu, 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
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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: Kabir Matharu, Medical Student, University of California, Davis Identifier: NCT01739257     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 254423
Study First Received: November 26, 2012
Last Updated: November 28, 2012 processed this record on May 25, 2017