Open Access Research article

Expressing one’s feelings and listening to others increases emotional intelligence: a pilot study of Asian medical students

Keiko Abe12, Phillip Evans3*, Elizabeth J Austin4, Yasuyuki Suzuki1, Kazuhiko Fujisaki1, Masayuki Niwa1 and Muneyoshi Aomatsu2

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Education Development Centre, Gifu University School of Medicine, Gifu, Japan

2 Department of Education for Community-Oriented Medicine, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan

3 School of Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

4 Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:82  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-82

Published: 7 June 2013



There has been considerable interest in Emotional Intelligence (EI) in undergraduate medical education, with respect to student selection and admissions, health and well-being and academic performance. EI is a significant component of the physician-patient relationship. The emotional well-being of the physician is, therefore, a significant component in patient care. The aim is to examine the measurement of TEIQue-SF in Asian medical students and to explore how the practice of listening to the feelings of others and expressing one’s own feelings influences an individual’s EI, set in the context of the emotional well-being of a medical practitioner.


A group of 183 international undergraduate medical students attended a half-day workshop (WS) about mental-health and well-being. They completed a self-reported measure of EI on three occasions, pre- and post-workshop, and a 1-year follow-up.


The reliability of TEIQue-SF was high and the reliabilities of its four factors were acceptable. There were strong correlations between the TEIQue-SF and personality traits. A paired t-test indicated significant positive changes after the WS for all students (n=181, p= .014), male students (n=78, p= .015) and non-Japanese students (n=112, p= .007), but a repeated measures analysis showed that one year post-workshop there were significant positive changes for all students (n=55, p= .034), female students (n=31, p= .007), especially Japanese female students (n=13, p= .023). Moreover, 80% of the students reported that they were more attentive listeners, and 60% agreed that they were more confident in dealing with emotional issues, both within themselves and in others, as a result of the workshop.


This study found the measurement of TEIQue-SF is appropriate and reliable to use for Asian medical students. The mental health workshop was helpful to develop medical students’ EI but showed different results for gender and nationality. The immediate impact on the emotional awareness of individuals was particularly significant for male students and the non-Japanese group. The impact over the long term was notable for the significant increase in EI for females and Japanese. Japanese female students were more conscious about emotionality. Emotion-driven communication exercises might strongly influence the development of students’ EI over a year.

Emotional Intelligence (EI); Personality trait; Asian medical students; Nationality; Gender