Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Original Article

Improvement of Medical Students’ Empathy Levels After an Intensive Experiential Training on Empathy Skills


1st Psychiatry Clinic, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Medicine


Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Medicine

Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2021; 31: 392-400
DOI: 10.5152/pcp.2021.21089
Read: 4376 Downloads: 805 Published: 22 December 2021

Background: EMPATHY IN HEALTHCARE is an intensive 20-hour experiential training program based on mediation techniques and specialized healthcare role-play for clinicians and medical students. It is hypothesized that the training will improve empathy via the intensive experiential techniques implemented.
Methods: A total of 50 medical students (25 males/25 females) took the course voluntarily. Empathy was measured using the Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Medical Students Version (JSE-S) (Greek version), before and after the 20-hour training, along with a 6-month follow-up. Gender, age, preferred medical specialty and baseline empathy score were explored as possible moderator variables of the training effect.
Results: Empathy increased after training, with a mean JSE-S score improvement of 11.25 points (±8.848) (P < .001). After 6 months, the mean JSE-S score maintained a difference of 6.514 points (±12.912) (P < .005). No differences were recorded with regard to gender, age group or medical specialty for the pooled data. Women in the 22-24 year-old age group had a 5-point mean difference (P = .05), and higher post-training scores than men. Lower initial scorers were the ones that mostly improved, with a 3-fold mean score difference from the higher scorers regardless of gender (P < .001), while also showing a smaller drop in empathy levels 6 months after the training compared to the higher scorers.
Conclusion: Intensive experiential training can improve empathy in a clinical setting. EMPATHY IN HEALTHCARE is a successful training program in improving empathy in medical students, as measured by the JSE-S. A score of 110 and below could be used for selecting medical student candidates who will benefit most from empathy training.
Cite this article as: Avlogiari E, Maria Karagiannaki S, Panteris E, Konsta A, Diakogiannis I. Improvement of medical students’ empathy levels after an intensive experiential training on empathy skills. Psychiatr Clin Psychopharmacol. 2021;31(4):392-400.

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