Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Virginia Commonwealth University Study Finds Drama Helpful in Improving Bedside Manner

Study indicates drama beneficial in teaching empathy techniques to doctors

Doctors taught empathy techniques by theater professors show improved bedside manner, according to a pilot study by a Virginia Commonwealth University research team.

The findings may help in the development of medical curriculum for clinical empathy training. Clinical empathy skills allow doctors to recognize a patient’s emotional status and to respond to the patient’s needs. Patients often identify empathy skills, such as understanding, listening and honesty, as important traits in their primary care physicians.

Results of the VCU study, conducted by faculty members from the departments of Theatre and Internal Medicine, indicate a significant improvement in the clinical empathy skills of internal medicine residents at the VCU Medical Center following six hours of instruction with professors of theater. The study was published in the August issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.