Measuring the impact of a ‘point of view’ disability simulation on nursing students' empathy using the Comprehensive State Empathy Scale

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Journal Article
Nurse Education Today, 2017, 59 pp. 75 - 81
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Background Although empathy is an integral component of professional practice and person-centred care, a body of research has identified that vulnerable patients groups frequently experience healthcare that is less than optimal and often lacking in empathy. Aim The aim of this study was to examine the impact of an immersive point-of-view simulation on nursing students' empathy towards people with an Acquired Brain Injury. Setting and Participants A convenience sample of 390 nursing students from a cohort of 488 participated in the study, giving a response rate of 80%. Students undertook the simulation in pairs and were randomly allocated to the role of either a person with Acquired Brain Injury or a rehabilitation nurse. The simulated ‘patients’ wore a hemiparesis suit that replicated the experience of dysphasia, hemianopia and hemiparesis. Design Characteristics of the sample were summarised using descriptive statistics. A two-group pre-test post-test design was used to investigate the impact of the simulation using the Comprehensive State Empathy Scale. t-Tests were performed to analyse changes in empathy pre post and between simulated ‘patients’ and ‘rehabilitation nurses’. Results On average, participants reported significantly higher mean empathy scores post simulation (3.75, SD = 0.66) compared to pre simulation (3.38 SD = 0.61); t (398) = 10.33, p < 0.001. However, this increase was higher for participants who assumed the role of a ‘rehabilitation nurse’ (mean = 3.86, SD = 0.62) than for those who took on the ‘patient’ role (mean = 3.64, SD = 0.68), p < 0.001. Conclusion The results from this study attest to the potential of point-of-view simulations to positively impact nursing students' empathy towards people with a disability. Research with other vulnerable patient groups, student cohorts and in other contexts would be beneficial in taking this work forward.
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