Avasarala SK, Whitehouse S, and Drake SM. Internship and empathy: Variations across time and specialties. South Med J 2015; 108(10):591-595.
Southern medical journal
OBJECTIVES: To assess whether any differences exist in Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) scores among postgraduate year 1 (PGY-1) residents across specialties.
METHODS: PGY-1 residents representing 11 specialties at our academic institution were invited to take a Web-based IRI survey at three time points. The specialties were condensed into several binary groups for analysis: internal medicine (IM) versus non-IM; primary care (IM, family medicine) versus nonprimary care; emergency medicine (EM, including the combined IM/EM) versus non-EM; surgical specialties (general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, otolaryngology, orthopedics, urology) versus nonsurgical specialties (EM, family medicine, IM, neurology, pathology, and psychiatry); men versus women; and age groups. A repeated-measures generalized-estimating equations approach was taken to analyze the effect of specialty and time on each of the four IRI subscales.
RESULTS: Of 94 PGY-1 residents invited to participate at each time point, 74 (77.1%) completed the survey at least once. Response rates at each time point were similar (mean 47.9%). When comparing the IM (n=35) and non-IM (n=39) groups, the perspective-taking subscale was found to be significantly lower in the non-IM group (P=0.006). Among male (n=46) versus female residents (n=26), the personal-distress subscale was significantly different overall (P=0.041) but not among time points. No other significant differences were found between groups. The conglomerate subscale scores throughout the year did not show a dramatic change.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study of IRI subscales in PGY-1 residents showed no major difference among specialties across 1 year except for IM residents, who scored significantly higher (more favorably) in the perspective-taking subscale. Contrary to previous studies, we did not observe a substantial decline in the empathic concern subscale IM residents over their first year.
Medical Subject Headings
Adult; Age Factors; Cohort Studies; Education, Medical; Empathy; Female; Humans; Internship and Residency; Longitudinal Studies; Male; Sex Factors; Specialization; Stress, Psychological; Surveys and Questionnaires; Young Adult