The impact of educational interventions on the empathic concern of health professional students: A literature review

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Nurse Education in Practice, 2018, 31 pp. 104 - 111
Issue Date:
2018-07-01
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd This review aimed to identify programs that promote health professional students' empathic concern. Empathic concern is a key mediator of important outcomes for both patients and health professionals. However the empathic concern of health professional students tends to decline over the course of their studies. To date studies that have evaluated the impact of educational programs on empathic concern have not been reviewed. The databases ProQuest, CINAHL and Ovid were searched for studies that had evaluated educational programs for health professional students using a validated psychometric measure of empathic concern. Studies were graded using The Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. Of 2977 identified studies, fifteen met inclusion criteria. Seven studies separately reported empathic concern scores. Four of the fifteen studies reported increased empathy scale scores after students took part in a program. Two studies received a strong quality rating, six a moderate rating and seven a weak rating. This review did not identify any studies that clearly demonstrated an increase in students' empathic concern after taking part in an educational program. Mindfulness based stress reduction, providing empathy content at each stage of a degree, programs that incorporate the film Wit, and Balint groups, may promote empathic concern. In light of the significant impact of health professionals’ levels of empathic concern on outcomes for patients and health professionals, further robustly designed research using appropriate psychometric scales is needed to inform the development of education programs in this area.
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