Doc-patient interaction improves with empathy training

It turns out you can teach someone how to be empathic. Resident physicians who participated in three 60-minute empathy training sessions significantly improved their interactions with patients, according to a study published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The training sessions teach recognition of facial expressions and other non-verbal emotional cues, emotional self-awareness, strategies for dealing with challenging patients or delivering bad clinical news, as well as techniques for recognizing and regulating personal stress.

"Many medical educators have thought that you are either born with this trait or you aren't," study leader Helen Riess of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) psychiatry department said in a Monday announcement. "We are also very happy to see that participating residents liked the training and found it interesting and helpful." Researchers said program directors could incorporate this training into their residency programs. Research announcement