What impact does postgraduate clinical training have on empathy among Japanese trainee dentists?

Toshiko Yoshida, Sho Watanabe, Takayuki Kono, Hiroaki Taketa, Noriko Shiotsu, Hajime Shirai, Yukie Nakai, Yasuhiro Torii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Enhancing empathy in healthcare education is a critical component in the development of a relationship between healthcare professionals and patients that would ensure better patient care; improved patient satisfaction, adherence to treatment, patients’ medication self-efficacy, improved treatment outcomes, and reduced patient anxiety. Unfortunately, however, the decline of empathy among students has been frequently reported. It is especially common when the curriculum transitions to a clinical setting. However, some studies have questioned the significance and frequency of this decline. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the impact of postgraduate clinical training on dental trainees’ empathy from cognitive, behavioral, and patients’ perspective. Methods: This study included 64 trainee dentists at Okayama University Hospital and 13 simulated patients (SPs). The trainee dentists carried out initial medical interviews with SPs twice, at the beginning and the end of their clinical training. The trainees completed the Japanese version of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy for health professionals just before each medical interview. The SPs evaluated the trainees’ communication using an assessment questionnaire immediately after the medical interviews. The videotaped dialogue from the medical interviews was analyzed using the Roter Interaction Analysis System. Results: No significant difference was found in the self-reported empathy score of trainees at the beginning and the end of the clinical training (107.73 [range, 85–134] vs. 108.34 [range, 69–138]; p = 0.643). Considering the results according to gender, male scored 104.06 (range, 88–118) vs. 101.06 (range, 71–122; p = 0.283) and female 109.17 (range, 85–134) vs. 111.20 (range, 69–138; p = 0.170). Similarly, there was no difference in the SPs’ evaluation of trainees’ communication (10.73 vs. 10.38, p = 0.434). Communication behavior in the emotional responsiveness category for trainees in the beginning was significantly higher than that at the end (2.47 vs. 1.14, p = 0.000). Conclusions: Overall, a one-year postgraduate dental training program neither reduced nor increased trainee dentists’ empathy levels. Providing regular education support in this area may help trainees foster their empathy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
JournalBMC Medical Education
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Clinical training
  • Empathy
  • Jefferson Scale of Empathy
  • Roter interaction analysis system
  • Simulated patients
  • Trainee dentists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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