Impact of communication training on physician expression of empathy in patient encounters

Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Apr;75(1):3-10. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.09.007. Epub 2008 Dec 10.


Objective: To examine whether an educational intervention that focused on physician communication training influenced physician empathic expression during patient interactions.

Methods: This study used a quantitative research method to investigate the influence of communication training on physician-expressed empathy using two measures (global and hierarchical) of physician empathic behavior.

Results: The differences in global empathy scores in the physician training group from baseline to follow-up improved by 37%, and hierarchical scores of physician empathic expression improved by up to 51% from baseline scores for the same group.

Conclusions: The results strongly supported the hypotheses that training made a significant difference in physician empathic expression during patient interactions demonstrated by both outside observer measures of global ratings and hierarchical ratings of physician empathic behavior.

Practice implications: These findings have significant implications for program design and development in medical education and professional training with the potential to improve patient outcomes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • United States