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Patient Educ Couns. 2017 Apr;100(4):742-747. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2016.11.006. Epub 2016 Nov 10.

Associations of medical student empathy with clinical competence.

Author information

1
Evans Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: rachel.casas@bmc.org.
2
Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: zxuan@bu.edu.
3
Evans Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: angela.jackson@bmc.org.
4
Evans Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: lstanfie@bu.edu.
5
Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: ncharvey@bu.edu.
6
Evans Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: daniel.chen@bmc.org.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Empathy is a crucial skill for medical students that can be difficult to evaluate. We examined if self-reported empathy in medical students was associated with clinical competence.

METHODS:

This study combined cross-sectional data from four consecutive years of medical students (N=590) from the Boston University School of Medicine. We used regression analysis to evaluate if self-reported empathy (Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE)) predicted scores in clinical clerkships, United States Medical Licensing Examinations, and OBJECTIVE: Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). We separately analyzed overall and OSCE communication scores based on interpersonal skills reported by standardized patients. We controlled for age, gender, debt, and specialty affinity.

RESULTS:

JSPE scores of medical students were positively associated with OSCE communication scores, and remained significant when controlling for demographics. We found that JSPE score was also predictive of overall OSCE scores, but this relationship was confounded by gender and age. JSPE scores were associated with performance in the Pediatrics clerkship, but not other clerkships or standardized tests.

CONCLUSION:

JSPE scores were positively associated with OSCE communication scores in medical students.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

This study supports that self-reported empathy may predict OSCE performance, but further research is needed to examine differences by gender and age.

KEYWORDS:

Clinical skills assessment; Communication skills; Medical education-assessment/evaluation; Medical education-undergraduate

PMID:
27856065
DOI:
10.1016/j.pec.2016.11.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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