A study of the effect of a visual arts-based program on the scores of Jefferson scale for physician empathy
1 Center for Medical Humanities and Department of Nuclear Medicine, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua 50012, Taiwan
2 School of Medicine, Tzu Chi University, and Department of Dermatology, Tzu Chi General Hospital, Hualien 97004, Taiwan
BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:142 doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-142Published: 25 October 2013
The effect of visual arts interventions on development of empathy has not been quantitatively investigated. A study was conducted on the effect of a visual arts-based program on the scores of the Jefferson Scale for Physician Empathy (JSPE).
A total of 110 clerks (n = 92) and first-year postgraduate residents (PGY1s) (n = 18) participating in the program were recruited into this study. The 4-hr program covered the subjects of learning to interpret paintings, interpreting paintings relating to medicine, illness and human suffering, the related-topics of humanitarianism and the other humanities fields and values and meaning. The JSPE was completed at the beginning (pretest) and the end (posttest) of the program.
There was no significant difference between the pretest and posttest JSPE scores. The average of the scores for the pretest was lower in the subgroup of PGY1s than the subgroup of clerks (p = 0.0358). An increased but not significantly mean posttest JESPE score was noted for the subgroup of PGY1s. Neither the females nor the males had higher posttest JSPE scores than the pretest scores.
Although using a structured visual arts-based program as an intervention may be useful to enhance medical students’ empathy, our results failed to show a positive effect on the JSPE Scores for a group of clerks and PGY1s. This suggests that further experimental studies are needed if quantitative evaluation of the effectiveness of visual-arts based programs on empathy is to be investigated.