Building empathy among the people of an Emergency Department: Staff and patients – A two-way interaction

Mr Matt Luther1,2, Mr Fergus Gardiner3, Ms Bernadette Brady1, Jodie Burke1   

1Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, Canberra, Australia, 2Australian Catholic University, Canberra, Australia, 3Charles Stuart Univesity, Canberra, Australia

The sharing of a story, related to a co-worker or patient, is believed to lead to an increased personalisation of the empathy message. Previous clinical interventions aimed at improving empathy, primarily considered one stakeholder and are often patient centric. To promote a multidisciplinary approach, the researchers included patients (including their significant others) and clinical staff in the study design. The researchers used three survey instruments measuring; the clinician’s perception of the patient’s empathy, the clinician’s compassion satisfaction and fatigue and changes in patient and clinical empathy, as a result of listening to empathetic audio recordings. The audio recordings aimed to capture the perspective of; working in the Emergency Department (ED) (including the multidisciplinary team), and being a patient in the ED and being a significant other in the ED. This design enabled sharing of the lived experiences of the participants, thus encouraging empathetic feelings bilaterally between the patient and clinician. Participants indicated that after listening to a story, 93.2% (n=55) felt they had a better understanding of the situation experienced by emergency department staff, patients or their visitors/significant others. Furthermore, 88.3% (n=53) of participants indicated that their empathy towards the people of the ED increased. Participants were asked to indicate their ability to empathise before listening to a recording, with a resulting weighted average of 3.25. This was then compared to their weighted average result, following listening to an audio recording of 4.17. Overall the participant results were highly significant t(6.1174) = 0.0001, p = <0.001. Audio recordings, demonstrating patient and healthcare clinician experiences, from a 360° perspective, are an effective way to share the familiarities of the people of an ED. Promoting the recipient to ‘walk in another’s shoes’.


Jodie commenced her career as a New Graduate RN at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, then found her love for Intensive Carew Nursing at Westmead Hospital. She commenced in Calvary ED in July 2016. Prior to ED she acted as the Nurse Manager at Calvary ICU/CCU for 15 months. Jodie have extensive experience in After Hours Management of various Hospitals. She also has extensive experience in ICU Nursing and have a passion for patient safety, staff satisfaction and teamwork.  Jodie has a newly discovered love for ED Nursing and particularly the Calvary ED team.