When power increases, empathy decreases

Brain ActivityAt the end of every month, The Arnold P. Gold Foundation compiles the Research Roundupa list of recently published studies on humanism in medicine.  If you would like to be notified each time these are published, send an email to bking@gold-foundation.org with the subject line “Subscribe RR”.

Power changes how the brain responds to others
Hogeveen J, Inzlicht M, Obhi SS.
J Exp Psychol Gen. 2013 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print]
After assigning people to groups and telling them that they were in position of power or powerlessness, researchers tested how well their brains mirrored other people’s actions. Results showed that the people who were told they were in power did not feel as much empathy as people who told they were powerless.  Hear more about this fascinating research on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

Early performance in a humanistic medicine course as a predictor of dental students’ later clinical performance
Nelson LP, Maramaldi P, Kinnunen TH, Kalenderian E.

J Dent Educ. 2013 Aug;77(8):1006-12.
Reserchers found that students’ performance in their first-year humanistic medicine course (focused on building relationships with patients and emphasizing empowerment, respect, and strong communication skills) were associated with clinical performance in the third year of dental school.

High physician concern about malpractice risk predicts more aggressive diagnostic testing in office-based practice
Carrier ER, Reschovsky JD, Katz DA, Mello MM.

Health Aff (Millwood). 2013 Aug;32(8):1383-91.
Researchers found that “physicians who reported a high level of malpractice concern were most likely to engage in practices that would be considered defensive when diagnosing patients who visited their offices with new complaints of chest pain, headache, or lower back pain.”

Making the professionalism curriculum for undergraduate medical education more relevant
Morihara SK, Jackson DS, Chun MB.

Med Teach. 2013 Aug 12. [Epub ahead of print]
After surveying the faculty and students at a community-based medical school, researchers found that both groups were similar in their definitions of medical professionalism and role modeling was the most preferred method of professionalism education. However, both groups were unclear about how professionalism was assessed.

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