Does Conventional Medical Training Destroy Empathy?

A surprisingly consistent body of research exists indicating that conventional medical training actually reduces practitioner empathy. What is worse, the decline in empathy appears even more pronounced at the time that the curriculum shifts towards patient-care activities.

In one study published in 2009 in the journal Academic Medicine entitled “The devil is in the third year: a longitudinal study of erosion of empathy in medical school,” the authors conclude:

“It is ironic that the erosion of empathy occurs during a time when the curriculum is shifting toward patient-care activities; this is when empathy is most essential.”

In another, higher-powered systematic review published in the same journal last year entitled “Empathy decline and its reasons: a systematic review of studies with medical students and residents,” researchers looked at data from 1990-2010, which included 18 studies, and found:

“The five longitudinal and two cross-sectional studies of residents showed a decrease in empathy during residency. The studies pointed to the clinical practice phase of training and the distress produced by aspects of the “hidden,” “formal,” and “informal” curricula as main reasons for empathy decline.”

They Concluded

“The results of the reviewed studies, especially those with longitudinal data, suggest that empathy decline during medical school and residency compromises striving toward professionalism and may threaten health care quality.”

Read the full article and find live links at Does Conventional Medical Training Destroy Empathy? | GreenMedInfo

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