Humanism in Medicine Research Roundup — August 2015

booksThis post is part of our series of Research Roundups — a list of recently published studies on humanism in medicine. If you would like to be notified each time a Research Roundup is published, send an email to with the subject line “Subscribe RR”.

Publications from Gold Foundation-Affiliated Authors

Connecting patients and clinicians: The anticipated effects of Open Notes on patient safety and quality of care
Bell SK, Folcarelli PH, Anselmo MK, Crotty BH, Flier LA, Walker J.    Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2015 Aug;41(8):378-84.

Sigall Bell is a 2011 Gold Professor.
The OpenNotes movement began in 2010 allowing patients and families to access notes from their doctor visits. There are now 5 million patients in the OpenNotes movement. Here, authors provide answers to three common questions: How do patients and providers view the potential effects of open notes on patient safety and quality of care? How do physicians anticipate reacting to mistakes that patients find in the notes? What are the potential implications of shared visit notes for institutional disclosure, education, and patient engagement programs?

‘Speaking up’ about patient safety concerns and unprofessional behaviour among residents: Validation of two scales
Martinez W, Etchegaray JM, Thomas EJ, Hickson GB, Lehmann LS, Schleyer AM, Best JA, Shelburne JT, May NB, Bell SK.    BMJ Qual Saf. 2015 Jul 21. [Epub ahead of print]

Sigall Bell is a 2011 Gold Professor; this publication arose out of her Gold-sponsored work.
Researchers created and tested two new survey scales to measure the extent to which the clinical environment supports speaking up about (a) patient safety concerns (SUC-Safe) and (b) unprofessional behavior (SUC-Prof). After testing with residents from six large US academic medical centres they found that both scales had good internal consistency (Cronbach’s α>0.70) and were unique from validated safety and teamwork climate measures (r<0.85 for all correlations), a measure of discriminant validity.

The impact of clinical empathy on patients and clinicians: Understanding empathy’s side effects
Reiss, H.    AJOB Neuroscience. 2015: 6(3).

Helen Riess is a 2013 Mapping the Landscape grantee.
The benefits of clinical empathy for patients include improved patient satisfaction and adherence to treatment, more accurate diagnosis and fewer medical errors. Some research shows that empathy is beneficial to clinicians as well, but studies also show that empathy declines during training and beyond. Dr. Riess reviews what is known about the effects of empathy of both patients and clinicians.

The evolution of an elective in health disparities and advocacy: Description of instructional strategies and program evaluation
Gonzalez CM, Fox AD, Marantz PR.    Acad Med. 2015 Jul 24. [Epub ahead of print]

Cristina Gonzalez is a 2014 Gold Humanism Scholar.
Researchers evaluated a 13-session health disparities elective offered first-year medical students that covers three main content areas: background, provider contributions to health disparities, and systemic contributions to health disparities (i.e., social determinants of health). Researchers found that participants’ scores for knowledge, attitudes, and self-reported confidence improved after the course.

Other Publications

The importance of productive patient-professional interaction for the well-being of chronically ill patients
Cramm JM, Nieboer AP.    Qual Life Res. 2015 Apr;24(4):897-903. [Epub ahead of print]

Over 1,700 chronically ill patients were surveyed at two separate times about their interactions with medical professionals.  Patients perceived a higher degree of productive interaction with general practitioners compared to other professionals. More productive patient-professional interactions were related to better well-being at the later date, assuming that all other factors in the model remained constant.

Technology versus humanism: How patients perceive the use of electronic health records in physicians’ offices-a qualitative study
Mwachofi AK, Khaliq AA, Carrillo ER, Winfree W.    Health Commun. 2015 Aug 25:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]
Researchers gathered qualitative information from patients about their experiences and perceptions regarding the effects of EHRs on healthcare quality in physicians’ offices. Patients reported improvements on the technical side of care but no change on the human side. Their concerns included confidentiality and security of records, and the possibility of governmental agencies or insurance companies having access.

Predictors of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction in acute care nurses
Kelly L, Runge J, Spencer C.    J Nurs Scholarsh. 2015 Aug 19.  [Epub ahead of print]

491 direct care nurses completed a survey measuring their professional quality of life (burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion satisfaction). Researchers found that when nurses have their work meaningfully recognized it may increase compassion satisfaction, positively impact retention, and elevate job satisfaction.

Measurement of physician-patient communication–A systematic review
Zill JM, Christalle E, Müller E, Härter M, Dirmaier J, Scholl I.     PLoS One. 2014 Dec 22;9(12):e112637.

Researchers aimed to provide an overview of measures of physician-patient communication and to evaluate the methodological quality of the identified measures. 20 measures of physician-patient communication were examined, however the methodologic quality of these measures was mostly fair or poor.

BrandyKing-150x150This post was written by Brandy King, Head of Information Services at The Arnold P. Gold Foundation Research Institute