Empathy in Osteopathic Medical Education and Clinical Practice: Designing the Research Agenda


Press Release

Osteopathic medical profession and Cleveland Clinic join forces to explore DOs’ empathy with patients


To design methods to measure whether osteopathic physicians’ empathy improves clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction, the Foundation for Osteopathic Research and Continuous Education (FORCE) is collaborating with the Cleveland Clinic’s Theodore F. Classen Endowed Chair for Osteopathic Research and Medical Education to bring together an influential cadre of researchers for a symposium at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Titled “Empathy in Osteopathic Medical Education and Clinical Practice: Designing the Research Agenda,” the March 10 symposium will build off a study on empathy in osteopathic medical education that was published in the December 2013 issue of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA).

The JAOA study shows higher empathy scores among third- and fourth-year osteopathic medical students compared with most studies on MD students, in which empathy scores decreased.

Empathy in patient-physician encounters has long been recognized as a key component in patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes. Recent studies on diabetes mellitus and the common cold provide clinical evidence demonstrating the connection between physician empathy and health outcomes.

Among the questions that will be considered at the symposium are whether osteopathic medical students’ higher empathy scores continue into their residency training and clinical practice and, if so, whether empathy contributes to better clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. The symposium participants will also discuss how research on such questions could be designed and managed.

Leading the symposium will be Leonard H. Calabrese, DO, the principal author of the JAOA study and the Cleveland Clinic’s Classen Chair. Among those joining Dr. Calabrese will be two of the four other authors of the JAOA study: Mohammadreza Hojat, PhD, an empathy researcher from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Rich Frankel, PhD a researcher in the physician patient engagement and communication at the University of Indiana joins the Symposium as a lead presenter.

Besides being conducted by the FORCE and the Classen Chair, the symposium will be supported by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the American Osteopathic Foundation (AOF), and the JeffersonMedicalCollege.

The AOA will be represented at the symposium by its president-elect, Robert S. Juhasz, DO, who is also the associate dean for the Ohio University-Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Northeast Ohio Extension Campus at SouthPointeHospital in Warrensville Heights. The AOF, in turn, will represented by its president, Anthony N. Ottaviani, DO, MPH, a pulmonologist in Largo, Fla.

Representing the FORCE and its parent organization, the American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO), will be George J. Pasquarello, DO, the FORCE’s current president and a former AAO president, and Michael P. Rowane, DO, a member of the AAO Board of Trustees and a co-chair of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s initiative Training Osteopathic Primary Care Educators.


CLICK HERE for the symposium agenda


Symposium research articles

Clinical Outcomes of Physician

A Model of Empathic Communication

Correlates and Changes in Empathy and Attitudes Toward Interprofessional Collaboration in Osteopathic Medical Students 

Physicians’ Empathy and Clinical Outcomes for Diabetic Patients

The Relationship Between Physician Empathy and Disease Complications: An Empirical Study of Primary Care Physicians and Their Diabetic Patients in Parma, Italy

A New Pathway for Medical Education

The Identity of the Osteopathic Family Physician

Three Types of Ambiguity in Coding Empathic Interaction in Primary Care Visits: Implications for Research and Practice



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