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Original Investigation |

A Longitudinal Study of Emotional Intelligence Training for Otolaryngology Residents and Faculty

James W. Dugan, PhD1,2; Robert A. Weatherly, MD3,4; Douglas A. Girod, MD3,5; Carolyn E. Barber, PhD6; Terry T. Tsue, MD3,7
[+] Author Affiliations
1Counseling and Educational Support Services, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas
2now with the Department of Student Affairs, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Kansas City, Missouri
3Department of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas
4now with the Department of Surgery, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri
5now executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
6Division of Counseling and Educational Psychology, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri
7now with the Cancer Institute, University of Kansas Medical Center, Westwood
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014;140(8):720-726. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2014.1169.
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Published online

Importance  Emotions underlie and influence physician communications and relationships with patients and colleagues. Training programs to enhance emotional attunement, or emotional intelligence (EI), for physicians and assess training effects are scarce.

Objective  To assess whether an EI training program for otolaryngology residents and faculty affects patient satisfaction.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Prospective longitudinal, cohort study of physician residents and faculty in an EI training program at the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Kansas Medical Center, with annual training from 2005 to 2011.

Interventions  Three levels of interventions included 4 years of repeated EI assessment, 7 years of highly interactive EI training with high-risk/high-stress simulations, and ongoing modeling and mentoring of EI skills by faculty.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Four levels of outcome of the EI training were assessed with the following questions: Did participants enjoy the program? Could they apply the training to their practice? Did it change their behavior? Did it affect patient satisfaction? The Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) was administered to faculty and residents, and the Press Ganey Patient Satisfaction Survey was completed by patients.

Results  Ninety-seven percent of participants (103 of 106) reported that they enjoyed the programs, and 98% (104 of 106) reported that they have or could have applied what they learned. Participants demonstrated improvement in mean EQ-i scores from 102.19 (baseline/pretraining) to 107.29 (posttraining and assessment 1 year later; change, 6.71; 95% CI, 3.44-9.98). This increase was sustained in successive years, and these results were supported with linear growth curve analysis. The total department mean EQ-i score in pretraining year 2005 was 104.29 (“average” range), with posttraining scores in the “high average” range (112.46 in 2006, 111.67 in 2007, and 113.15 in 2008). An increase in EQ-i scores and EI training corresponded with an increase in patient satisfaction scores. Percentile rank patient satisfaction scores before EI training ranged from 85% to 90%; after training, scores ranged from 92% to 99%.

Conclusions and Relevance  Emotional intelligence training positively influences patient satisfaction and may enhance medical education and health care outcome.

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Figure 1.
Sample Results of the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i)

A, The EQ-i generates a total score for each individual and 5 composite scale scores. B, The EQ-i also generates 15 subscales of emotional intelligence. The mean score for each composite scale or subscale is 100, a score of 115 or higher is 1 SD above the mean, and a score of 85 or below is 1 SD below the mean.

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Figure 2.
Otolaryngology Department’s Patient Satisfaction Scores Before and After Emotional Intelligence (EI) Training, 2002-2011

The department’s Press Ganey Patient Satisfaction Survey scores 3 years before and 6 years after EI training. Patient satisfaction data were missing in 2009 (see explanation in text).

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