Multi-Institutional Controlled Trial Comparing the Patient-Perceived Empathic Behavior of EM Residents




D'Etienne, James
Wang, Hao
Alanis, Naomi
Kao, Jeremy
Singh, Jatinder
Fernandez, Chloe
Bell, Charles
Sunderji, Aman
Wombwell, Tamsyn
Pettit, Katie


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Purpose: The ED poses multiple challenges to physician empathy including rapid pace, lack of privacy, frequent interruptions, the absence of pre-existing relationships between patients and providers, and the possibility of patients having a general distrust of providers. The goal of this project is to test the effectiveness of an educational intervention to improve patient perception of resident physician empathy and trust in the emergency department (ED) setting. Methods: Patient-participants were given The Jefferson Scale of Patient Perceptions of Physician Empathy (JSPPPE) and the Trust in Physicians Scale (TIPS). There were 6 participating institutions; 3 were the intervention institutions and 3 which were control institutions. JPS was one of the control institutions. Results: This study suggests that the intervention provided no effect in terms of patient perceptions of physician empathy assessed using the JSPPPE but had a modest effect on perception of trust based upon TIPS measured 4-6 months later. An educational intervention on clinician empathy showed modest improvement in one of our primary outcomes as assessed by patients (TIPS). Conclusions: Although we were able to find only modestly significant improvements in patients perception of trust, we believe further work in this area will continue to show the benefit of empathy training for our patients and providers.