Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Lesson in Physician Empathy from Parma, Italy

Patrick Monaghan
JSPH Director of Communications

This morning’s Jefferson School of Population Health Forum was notable on two fronts: a presentation on findings from a highly publicized study on empathy in patient care, and a first-ever workshop with the researchers for members of the Grandon Society.

Formed earlier this year, the Grandon Society serves as the Jefferson School of Population Health’s membership organization for leaders throughout the healthcare sector – including government, foundations and professional societies, academia, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and related business and corporate interests – who are dedicated to transforming the US health care system through collaboration, education and innovation.

The study, published in the September 2012 issue of Academic Medicine, shows that diabetes patients of doctors who scored lower on a test of empathy were more likely to have acute metabolic complications associated with their condition, than patients of doctors who scored higher on the test. The study included 20,961 people with diabetes in Italy, and their 242 primary care doctors. The researchers divided the doctors’ empathy scores into high, moderate and low. Then they tracked the occurrence of acute metabolic complications – hyperglycemia, radically low insulin production and diabetic coma – in patients.

The presentation featured the kind of topical, thought-provoking content typically spotlighted by the Jefferson School of Population Health Forums. But the hour-long discussion and question-and-answer session that followed, reserved especially for Grandon Society members, made the morning. It was well planned, insightful, and entertaining and a good representation of the kind of programming that is in store for Grandon Society members.

During the Grandon session, three authors of the study, Thomas Jefferson University’s Mohammadreza Hojat, PhD; Daniel Z. Louis, MS, and Vittorio Maio, PharmD, MS, MSPH, were joined, via a Skype call to Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, by the study’s lead author, Stefano Del Canale, MD, PhD. Guests were even treated to – what else? – samples of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, direct from Parma, Italy.

A nice touch, indeed.

For further information on the Grandon Society, click here.