Evidence of Declining Empathy in Third Year Osteopathic Medical Students

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BACKGROUND: Recent research in allopathic medical schools has indicated a decline in empathy amongst medical students during their first year of clinical rotations. Further studies have also found that this decline in empathy continues throughout residency training.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if the declining empathy present in allopathic medical schools is occurring in our osteopathic institution and to establish the most effective way of collecting information regarding empathy from our medical student population.

DESIGN: A questionnaire regarding empathy was completed by third year medical students following lecture and group-format sessions focused on improving awareness and willingness to use motivational interviewing for health promotion and prevention, in the context of cultural sensitivity and sensibility.

PARTICIPANTS: Seventy third year medical students at our osteopathic teaching institution.

RESULTS: Questionnaire responses indicated that a larger percentage of students in the third year class at our institution were found not to be exhibiting empathy compared to those who were empathetic.

CONCLUSIONS: Third year osteopathic medical students exhibited decreased empathy in their questionnaire responses. Although preliminary, this finding lays the groundwork for further studies that will lead to the implementation of educational methods to promote empathy and aid students in developing an empathetic way with their patients, early on in their education.

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International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine





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This article was published in the International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, Volume 17, Issue 1, March 2014, Pages 22-7.

The published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijosm.2013.10.008

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

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