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IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 3926: Selecting and Performing Service-Learning in a Team-Based Learning Format Fosters Dissonance, Reflective Capacity, Self-Examination, Bias Mitigation, and Compassionate Behavior in Prospective Medical Students

16 Oct 2019

IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 3926: Selecting and Performing Service-Learning in a Team-Based Learning Format Fosters Dissonance, Reflective Capacity, Self-Examination, Bias Mitigation, and Compassionate Behavior in Prospective Medical Students

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health doi: 10.3390/ijerph16203926

Authors:
Alexis Horst
Brian D. Schwartz
Jenifer A. Fisher
Nicole Michels
Lon J. Van Winkle

More compassionate behavior should make both patients and their providers happier and healthier. Consequently, work to increase this behavior ought to be a major component of premedical and medical education. Interactions between doctors and patients are often less than fully compassionate owing to implicit biases against patients. Such biases adversely affect treatment, adherence, and health outcomes. For these reasons, we studied whether selecting and performing service-learning projects by teams of prospective medical students prompts them to write reflections exhibiting dissonance, self-examination, bias mitigation, dissonance reconciliation, and compassionate behavior. Not only did these students report changes in their behavior to become more compassionate, but their reflective capacity also grew in association with selecting and performing team service-learning projects. Components of reflective capacity, such as reflection-on-action and self-appraisal, correlated strongly with cognitive empathy (a component of compassion) in these students. Our results are, however, difficult to generalize to other universities and other preprofessional and professional healthcare programs. Hence, we encourage others to test further our hypothesis that provocative experiences foster frequent self-examination and more compassionate behavior by preprofessional and professional healthcare students, especially when teams of students are free to make their own meaning of, and build trust and psychological safety in, shared experiences.

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