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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Helen Riess

 

Helen Riess & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Health Care

Helen Riess, M.D. is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry,
Harvard Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital
.
 

The mission of the Program is to enhance empathy and interpersonal relationships in healthcare. She is also Chief Technology Officer of Empathetics which offers scientifically based empathy training proven to optimize interpersonal engagement.

 Helen is a coauthor of the study, Empathy Training for Resident Physicians. The study concluded;  "A brief intervention grounded in the neurobiology of empathy significantly improved the physician empathy as rated by patients, suggesting that the quality of care in medicine could be improved by integrating the neuroscience of empathy into the medical education."

Empathy is like, getting underneath the skin of another person, to merge temporarily with their experience, then getting out, to reflect on the experience.  Empathy can be taught, although a certain endowment may be inborn, research shows that it is a mutable trait. Our study demonstrated that empathy could be increased significantly in the training group and it decreased significantly in the control group.
Sub Conference: Health Care

 

Panel 24: Moving Medical Culture from Detachment to Empathy, Jodi Halpern, Helen Riess, Edwin Rutsch  
  Edwin Rutsch, Director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy, hosts a discussion with two of the primary leaders in the movement to transform medical culture from detachment to a culture of empathy.  

Jodi Halpern M.D., Ph.D, is Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Joint Medical Program and the School of Public Health.  She is author of From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice.

Helen Riess M.D., Ph.D is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.  She is Chief Technology Officer of Empathetics which offers scientifically based empathy training proven to optimize interpersonal engagement.
Sub Conference: Health Care


 

The Baby in the Well, the case against empathy' Response by Helen Riess & Edwin Rutsch
(2013-05-20 - The Baby in the Well,  The case against empathy. New Yorker Magazine)

 

 

 

 

 

Helen Riess & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Health Care

 

 

(Video Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action and create a transcription of this video, check the volunteers page.  The transcriptions will make it easier for other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)

 

 Panel 19: The Challenge of Balancing Analysis and Empathy

 

Anthony Jack
Helen Riess
Richard Boyatzis
Edwin Rutsch

Recent evidence shows that adopting an analytic frame of mind suppresses brain areas involved in empathy, and emotionally engaging with others suppresses brain areas involved in analytic thought. This presents a challenge for contexts that require both forms of thought.

Managers, teachers and doctors all have professional roles in which optimal performance depends both on a capacity for clear analytic thought, and on their ability to emotionally resonate with others. This panel brings together three experts in the neuroscience of empathy and how to train it. They discuss the challenges involved in fostering a balance between empathy and analysis in professional life, and suggest solutions.
Sub Conference: Science


 

The Power Of Empathy: Helen Reiss at TEDxMiddlebury
Dr. Riess is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She directs the Empathy & Relational Science Program, conducting research on the neuroscience of emotions and empathy, and is Co-Founder, Chief Scientist and Chairman of Empathetics, LLC. She is also a core member of the Research Consortium for Emotional Intelligence and is a faculty member of the Harvard Macy Institute for Physician Leaders.

 

  • She is fascinated by human connection

  • we all want to be seen and heard and have our needs responded too.

  • measuring empathy - doctors and patient

    • learned to be more empathic

    • patient lost weight because she had been heard

  • studied empathy

  • developed empathy training

    • E - eye contact

      • eye gauze

      • Zulu - I see you

    • M - muscles of facial expression

      • we read facial emotions

    • P - posture - conveys connection

    • A - affect - expressed emotions

      • naming the feelings

    • T - tone of voice -

    • H - hearing the whole person - don't judge

    • Y -  your response

      • respond to peoples feelings

      • we mirror each others feelings

  • We are hardwire for empathy , not just for ourselves.

  • how does this all work?

    • neuroscience measuring substrate of empathy

  • Benefits of empathy - empathy matters

    • Employers -  creates an engaged workforce v. disengaged

    • Patients - shorter recovery better immune function v. sick

    • Student - stay in school v. dropout

    • Marriages - successful v. failure

  • We need to see each other to bring out the full potential in others


2013-01-17 - Empathy: The Development and Disintegration of Human Connection
Symposium by the Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior - Massachusetts General Hospital (videos)

Helen Riess discusses "Empathy Research and Education"

 

Helen Riess MD, is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.

 

  • 00: Empathy can not be over emphasized

  • We have a world empathy problem

  • going from micro to the macro

  • Can empathy be taught?  50%/50%

  • Testing of empathy by Marci

  • Person masking of pain

    • moments of extreme anxiety

  • 4:45 The empathy problem

    • empathy goes down in med school

    • not looking at the whole patient

  • 6:00 did study of empathy training

    • empathy could be taught - trained 800-1000 doctors

    • created online empathy training

  • 7:30 - Defining empathy

    • Martin Buber

  • confusions with

    • empathy - Em (in)  Pathos ( Suffering) understating emotions and thoughts

    • sympathy - Sym (same) sharing emotions, liking,

    • antipathy - Anti (against/avoid) disregard for another's suffering

  • a capacity to infer - can be positive or  negative ways

  • 9:45 - four components of empathy

    • cognitive

    • affective

    • behavioral

    • moral

  • 10:15 Evolutionary role of empathy

    • social context

    • understanding others

    • others actions

  • 11:00 cutting finger off - What do you feel?

  • 12:00 - parts of empathy in the brain

    • 13:45 Tania Singers pain matrix - where empathy lights up

  • 15:00 -  mirror empathy of faces

    • hearthmath - physiological responses

  • triggering and losing empathy

    • empathy and reflection - self awareness and mindfulness

  • E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. acronym

    • E - Eye contact

    • M - Muscles of Facial Expression

    • P - Posture/Position

    • A - Affect

    • T - Tone of Voice, Touch

    • H - Hearing the whole person

    • Y - Your response

  • Training - Rating of empathy

  • Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

    • Self Awareness

    • Self Regulation

    • Other Awareness and empathy

    • Relationship Management


2013-01-17 - Empathy: The Development and Disintegration of Human Connection
Symposium by the Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior - Massachusetts General Hospital (videos)

Empathy: Panel discussion The Development and Disintegration of Human

 

WBUR's Martha Bebinger moderates a conversation between the panelists on how empathy varies between individuals, the neural basis for this capacity, and whether we should steer people with more or less empathic capacity to careers based on this capacity.
Helen Riess MD,
Alice Flaherty, MD, PhD,
Judith Edersheim, JD, MD
Carl D. Marci, MD

 

  • what are we doing wrong and what could we do right?

    • teaching of empathic behaviour

    • forums like this help

    • we're in the early days of empathy

    • rational models that don't work

  • we're noticing this way to late in life

  • Helen: need to lean it in kindergarten

    • need a relationship relationship

    • emotional circles in schools

    • have to teach it at all stages =- ages

  • Alice Flaherty: Instill empathy before it is to late - difficult to treat psychopathy.. keep it from happening

    • start easily - one thing that can take people off the psychopathy trajectory

    • can head of violence at the street level

  •  Is the empathic response uniform?

    • Judith Edersheim  - mirroring of emotion

      • people catch joy faster than sorrow

    • Carl D. Marci -

      • hard to measure empathic bandwidth

    • Helen: notice when your getting emotionally charged

      • body is like a musical instrument that is being plaid by others all the time

      • be mindful of that

      • emotional contagion (just catching) vr empathy (understanding)

  • Q and A

  • Doom and Gloom of Empathy? But Expanding Circle of Empathy expanding?

    • yes, things are getting better

    • better than what? lots of science happening

    • world of crime and violence

    • inequality in society

    • we are at the forefront of change

    • we have just scratched the surface of what can be done - need more research

  • 20:00 - How to steer students with their personalities toward appropriate direction.

    • human brain is empathic

    • people have different capacities

  • 29:00 If empathy is a fatigable trait, is large population attributing to the empathy fatigue?

    • encourage conversations - in the home, education, etc,

    • embed in our own communities


2013-05-01 - Boston Stronger -- Empathy in Action

"The human brain is hard-wired for empathy; in situations like this, we understand why. Helping those who suffer diminishes both their pain, and ours, preserving our fellow humans, ourselves and our species.

 

It was an odd feeling -- walking into Massachusetts General Hospital just days after the Boston Marathon bombings had uprooted our hospital and challenged our staff to the core of their training and their emotional strength. But our lives, however altered, had to continue. In my case, I was to lead an inter-hospital seminar with medical, surgical and psychiatry interns at an annual offsite retreat -- bright young men and women preparing for promising futures in medicine, and our workshop happened to focus on empathy, an essential component of not just the medical profession, but also our collective humanity.


As is customary in my workshop, I asked the interns to tell each other a minute-long story of some emotional significance. The task is meant to elicit empathy from our peers, to demonstrate how we convey caring through nonverbal signals, and to remind these burgeoning physicians how vital compassion is to our profession and our interactions with patients, especially considering the fact that research shows a marked decline in empathy that beings in the third-year of medical school."

 


2013-02-01 - Medscape Today: Can Empathy Be Taught?
(requires registration on Medscape)

"The research team that I lead set out to determine whether specific training in empathy could improve patients' perceptions of their physicians' care in a randomized controlled trial. I started by creating a series of 3 training modules grounded in the recent literature on the neurobiology and physiology of empathy and emotions.

Research has shown that empathic observers have neural activity and autonomic arousal -- as measured by heart rate and skin conductance -- mirroring that of a person experiencing pain or distress firsthand. Nearly everyone has had the experience of flinching when observing another person in pain, such as when someone's hand is slammed in a car door."


 

Study:  Empathy Training for Resident Physicians: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Neuroscience-Informed Curriculum pdf
Helen Riess, John M. Kelley, Robert W. Bailey, Emily J. Dunn and Margot Phillips

Physician empathy is an essential attribute of the patient–physician relationship and is associated with better outcomes, greater patient safety and fewer malpractice claims.

Objective: We tested whether an innovative empathy training protocol grounded in neuroscience could improve physician empathy as rated by patients.

Conclusion: A brief intervention grounded in the neurobiology of empathy significantly improved the physician empathy as rated by patients, suggesting that the quality of care in medicine could be improved by integrating the neuroscience of empathy into the medical education.

 

 

 

Multiple articles were written based on the study.


June 21, 2012 - Can Doctors Learn Empathy?
Blogs.nytimes.com
Empathy has always been considered an essential component of compassionate care, and recent research has shown that its benefits go far beyond the exam room. Greater physician empathy has been associated with fewer medical errors, better patient outcomes and more satisfied patients. It also results in fewer malpractice claims and happier doctors.

 

June 07, 201 A Steady Dose of Empathy
Hospitals and Health Networks Daily
Healthcare organizations are well aware that patient satisfaction is an important and growing component of the formula used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to calculate reimbursements. Private payers have already begun employing pay-for-performance contracts that include a patient satisfaction component.

 

June 1, 2012 - Helping doctors put empathy to good use
Boston.com
Dr. Helen Ries, director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, and associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, recently published a study showing that explicitly teaching empathy to doctorsin- training improves their interactions with patients.

 

 

 


Notes:
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Empathy has four components – 1. cognitive, 2, affective, 3 behavioral and 4. moral.
Empathy can be used for both positive and negative goals.
Empathy is more than just a feeling, it is also behaving the right way even when you don’t have an empathic feeling.

 Empathy can be taught although a certain endowment may be inborn, research shows that it is a mutable trait. Our study demonstrated that empathy could be increased significantly in the training group and it decreased significantly in the control group. With attention to emotional signals of others we become more empathic.  People must learn to distinguish true empathy from misguided empathy. This is essential for our society, where misguided empathy leads to misguided advice and actually harms others.