Social interaction game to promote empathy among first year medical students: a pilot study

Liaquat R. Johnson, Ramiz Raja


Background: Empathy is integral to professionalism, but is lacking in medical students. There are few interventions that promote empathy. This pilot study describes the first use of a novel intervention to promote empathy.

Methods: A novel social interaction game was developed and administered to first MBBS students. It provided an experiential simulation of persons belonging to lower socioeconomic strata over 4 simulated ‘days’. This cross-sectional study assessed the impact of the intervention on empathy using a 5-point Likert scale to score self-perceptions across several domains. The data were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance (RMANOVA).

Results: There was a statistically significant decline in scale scores on all days following Day 1 (p<0.05). This was true across all domains. Cronbach’s alpha for internal reliability was 0.91 for Day 1; and 0.97 for Day 1 through Day 4. Open ended comments indicated empathic feelings were generated due to the intervention.

Conclusions: A simulation experience like the social interaction game described here, may be used to improve the attitudes and empathy of medical students towards persons from low socioeconomic backgrounds.


Empathy, Experiential learning, Medical students

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