Comparing the Effects of Narrative Nonfiction and Literary Fiction on Empathy Retention in Medical Students
AffiliationThe University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix
Undergraduate Medical Education
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
DescriptionA Thesis submitted to The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Medicine.
AbstractIntegration of medical humanities into medical student curricula has been shown to improve medical student empathy and resilience. The purpose of this study is to determine if narrative nonfiction pieces help students retain equal or more empathy skills compared to reading literary fiction. Previous studies show that interventions that utilize medical humanities can vary in medium and genre, and face the challenge of small sample size and confirmation bias due to a lack of randomized trials. In contrast, this study compares the reading of Narrative Nonfiction and Literary Fiction in building empathy in second year medical students randomized to each genre. Participants were asked to read selections from their assigned genre during the intervention period. Baseline, pre-intervention, and post-intervention assessments were measured by the Reading the Mind in the Eyes –Revised. Results demonstrated a statistically significant decrease in empathy across the overall study period, and there was no empathy retention difference between genres. Additionally, female gender identity and increased engagement in the arts and humanities prior to medical school were correlated with higher empathy scores across time. These findings indicate the need for longitudinal and personalised learning in medical humanities for more thorough studies and maximised benefits on empathy retention.