Measuring the impact of a 'point of view' disability simulation on nursing students' empathy using the Comprehensive State Empathy Scale
Background: Although empathy is an integral component of professional practice and person-centred care, a body of research has identified that vulnerable patients groups frequently experience healthcare that is less than optimal and often lacking in empathy.
Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the impact of an immersive point-of-view simulation on nursing students' empathy towards people with an Acquired Brain Injury.
Setting and Participants: A convenience sample of 390 nursing students from a cohort of 488 participated in the study, giving a response rate of 80%. Students undertook the simulation in pairs and were randomly allocated to the role of either a person with Acquired Brain Injury or a rehabilitation nurse. The simulated ‘patients’ wore a hemiparesis suit that replicated the experience of dysphasia, hemianopia and hemiparesis.
Design: Characteristics of the sample were summarised using descriptive statistics. A two-group pre-test post-test design was used to investigate the impact of the simulation using the Comprehensive State Empathy Scale. t-Tests were performed to analyse changes in empathy pre post and between simulated ‘patients’ and ‘rehabilitation nurses’.
Results: On average, participants reported significantly higher mean empathy scores post simulation (3.75, SD =0.66) compared to pre simulation (3.38 SD =0.61); t (398) =10.33, p < 0.001. However, this increase was higher for participants who assumed the role of a ‘rehabilitation nurse’ (mean =3.86, SD=0.62) than for those who took on the ‘patient’ role (mean =3.64, SD= 0.68), p < 0.001.
Conclusion: The results from this study attest to the potential of point-of-view simulations to positively impact nursing students' empathy towards people with a disability. Research with other vulnerable patient groups, student cohorts and in other contexts would be beneficial in taking this work forward.