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Patient Educ Couns. 2011 Mar;82(3):355-60. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2010.12.029. Epub 2011 Feb 4.

Electrodermal activity in response to empathic statements in clinical interviews with fibromyalgia patients.

Author information

  • 1Department of Behavioral Sciences in Medicine, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. arnstein.finset@medisin.uio.no

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To study patients' electrodermal response (1) to an interviewer's empathic statements vs. inattention to emotional concerns and (2) to the emotional content in clinical interviews.

METHODS:

Patients with fibromyalgia (n=48) were given a clinical interview in a randomized 2×2 design, in which interviewer empathic or inattentive behavior (scenario A) and the emotional or neutral content of the interview (scenario B) were manipulated. Electrodermal activity (EDA) was measured during the interview. The patients' affective state (PANAS) and patient satisfaction were also assessed.

RESULTS:

In scenario A a significant main effect of empathy was found, indicating an increased tonic EDA (skin conduction level, SCL) during the empathy condition (p<.05). In scenario B there was a main effect of empathy (p<.01) and a significant empathy×content interaction effect (p<.01). There was a strong positive association between empathy and patient satisfaction (p<.0001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Empathic statements by the interviewer were associated with increased SCL in patients, most so in interviews with emotional content.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

Psychophysiological variables such as EDA may be applied in clinical communication research on emotional communication, but the limitations of such measures should also be recognized.

Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

PMID:
21295937
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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