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Medical Improvisation Training as a Vehicle to Improve Empathetic Communication Skills in Nutrition and Dietetics Students

An Exploratory Pilot Intervention

Thompson, Kyle L., DCN, RDN, LDN, CNSC; Stetzler, Sonja Kassis, MA, RDN, LDN, CPC

doi: 10.1097/TIN.0000000000000175
Dietary Interventions and Education
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Medical improvisation, based on the theater, is the adaptation of improvisational techniques to achieve medical objectives including empathetic patient-provider communication. Theatrical improvisations are unscripted dialogues among actors, intended to meet performance goals. In this pilot study, 2 consecutive cohorts of graduate-level dietetics students (N = 26) received 6 hours of medical improvisation training over their respective 9-month academic years. Pre- and postintervention questionnaires indicated statistically significant increases in students' perception scores regarding specific components of empathetic communication including collaboration, flexibility, and self-confidence. Medical improvisation training may be a promising avenue for developing communication skills among nutrition and dietetics students.

Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management, Beaver College of Health Sciences, Appalachian State University Boone, North Carolina (Dr Thompson); and Effective Connecting, Charlotte, North Carolina (Ms Stetzler).

Correspondence: Kyle L. Thompson, DCN, RDN, LDN, CNSC, Department of Nutrition and Health Care Management, Beaver College of Health Sciences, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608 (thompsonkl@appstate.edu).

The authors disclose that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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