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Abstract: SA-PO022

Role Play Simulation to Improve Empathy in Nephrology Trainees

Session Information

  • Educational Research
    November 09, 2019 | Location: Exhibit Hall, Walter E. Washington Convention Center
    Abstract Time: 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Category: Educational Research

  • 800 Educational Research


  • Malavade, Tushar Suryakant, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Schiff, Jeffrey, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Jassal, Sarbjit Vanita, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Tanna, Gemini, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Empathy enables one to identify with another’s situation, thoughts, or condition. Empathizing with patients is believed to enhance patient satisfaction & treatment adherence. Simulation is increasingly used to teach empathy to health professionals. Using a randomized controlled trial design we assessed whether role play simulation improves empathy in nephrology trainees (NT).


All NT at the University of Toronto were eligible to participate. Participants were randomized to either Intervention or Control. The intervention comprised participation in medication intake (7-day dosette with QID placebo pills) & a clinical encounter (either ½ day outpatient clinic (MCKC) or a mock dialysis visit. Both involved clinical assessment by a physician, dietician, social worker & pharmacist. Control group was not exposed to any interventions. Empathy was assessed using the questionnaire for empathy (Jefferson Scale of Empathy for Health Professionals – JSE) at baseline (JSEa), within 24h of interventions (JSEb), & again at 3 months (JSEc). A difference in empathy scores was analyzed, between JSEa & JSEb, and JSEa & JSEc, using the paired T-test.


All 36 NT were approached, 29 consented & randomized (Intervention n=16; Control n=13). Participants were mostly male (69%) & aged 31-40 yrs. In the Intervention group, 16 completed all JSE questionnaires & medication intake, 5 completed a dialysis session, & 5 completed MCKC session. Incomplete questionnaires were given by 2 Control group NT. At baseline, no differences were found between Intervention & Control groups (JSEa 108 ± 14 & 113 ± 8 respectively, NS). An increase in empathy was seen in the intervention group, but not the control group (JSEb 117 vs.113, P=0.03, Fig 1). A trend to persistent improved scores was seen (115 vs 113, P 0.09 at JSEc).


This small study suggests that role play simulation can increase empathy in NT at least over the short term. Larger studies, with longer time period follow up are required.