Evaluation of the ‘Empathic Care of a Vulnerable Older Person’ e-simulation
Background: Healthcare reports have identified that the nursing care provided to frail older people is sometimes indifferent, unkind, and lacking in empathy. Compelling research indicates that these types of healthcare interactions can result in both emotional and physiological harm. Thus, there is a need for authentic learning experiences that enhance nursing students' empathy towards older people and that they can reflect upon, learn from and transfer to their real-world practice. e-Simulations provide a pragmatic way of addressing this need. Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of an ‘Empathic Care of a Vulnerable Older Person’ e-simulation on nursing students' empathy levels. Setting and participants: A convenience sample of first year nursing students from one university in the United Kingdom and two Australian universities was recruited for the study. Design and analysis: A three-group pre-post study was conducted using the Comprehensive State Empathy Scale to evaluate the impact of the effectiveness of the e-simulation. Sample characteristics were summarised using descriptive statistics. Dependent t-tests and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to compare the changes in empathy scores pre post and differences between groups. Results: A total of 684 nursing students participated in the study; their average age was 23 years. Overall, there was a significant increase in empathy scores from pre-test to post-test. Post-hoc comparison of the three groups indicated that the e-simulation had a greater impact on the empathy levels of participants from Universities 2 and 3, compared to those from University 1. Conclusion: e-Simulations using narrative methodologies that cater for learners' emotional memory appear to be an effective approach for enhancing empathy towards older people. However, further studies are needed to explore how this learning activity might inform and influence learners' future clinical practice.