Date of Conferral
Dr. Barbara Benoliel
Training interprofessional healthcare teams continues to advance practice for patient-centered care. Empathy research is also advancing and has been explored in social work, psychology, and other healthcare areas. In the absence of understanding empathy in an interprofessional setting, educators are limited in preparing teams to develop empathy as part of core competencies This grounded theory study explored for a theory of how interprofessional healthcare teams conceptualize and operationalize empathy in their practice. Azjen's theory of planned behavior and Barrett-Lennard's cyclical model of empathy framed the study. Data were collected using 6 focus groups and 24 semistructured interviews of varied healthcare professionals working in an interprofessional setting in Ontario, Canada. Systematic data analysis utilizing Auerbach and Silverstein's (2003) approach revealed participants engaged in and valued empathy as a team. Empathy was identified as purposeful and intentional behaviors believed to be meaningful for positive patient outcomes. In addition, professionals identified the role of genuine intent in the practice of empathy. As a result of this study, a grounded theory of interprofessional intentional empathy centered care explains the conceptualization and operationalization of empathy in practice. Collective empathy in an interprofessional team model contributes to improved patient outcomes. The work of this study ascertains that empathy is not accidental; it should be cultivated in the form of intentional and genuine team experiences. This study advances social change by further identifying how the practice of empathy can be integrated into interprofessional healthcare education and praxis.