Evaluating Physician Emotion Regulation in Serious Illness Conversations Using Multimodal Assessment

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Center for Interdisciplinary Population & Health Research, MaineHealth Institute for Research

Journal Title

Journal of pain and symptom management

MeSH Headings

Humans; Emotional Regulation; Physician-Patient Relations; Cross-Sectional Studies; Pilot Projects; Physicians (psychology); Communication


CONTEXT: Emotion regulation by the physician can influence the effectiveness of serious illness conversations. The feasibility of multimodal assessment of emotion regulation during these conversations is unknown. OBJECTIVES: To develop and assess an experimental framework for evaluating physician emotion regulation during serious illness conversations. METHODS: We developed and then assessed a multimodal assessment framework for physician emotion regulation using a cross-sectional, pilot study on physicians trained in the Serious Illness Conversation Guide (SICG) in a simulated, telehealth encounter. Development of the assessment framework included a literature review and subject matter expert consultations. Our predefined feasibility endpoints included: an enrollment rate of ≥60% of approached physicians, >90% completion rate of survey items, and 20% missing data. The thematic analysis found that physicians': 1) overarching goal was to move beyond prognosis to reasonable hope; 2) tactically focused on establishing a trusting, supportive relationship; and 3) possessed incomplete awareness of their emotion regulation strategies. CONCLUSION: Our novel, multimodal assessment of physician emotion regulation was feasible in a simulated SICG encounter. Physicians exhibited an incomplete understanding of their emotion regulation strategies.

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