Tuesday, 05 November 2019

The University of Nicosia Medical School is pleased to announce its participation in the project ‘Curriculum Development using VR technology to enhance empathetic communication skills in future health care professionals’ (EmpathyInHealth) which is funded by the Erasmus+ programme (KA203 Strategic Partnerships for higher education).

The project started in September 2019 and has a 3 year duration. The organisations participating in the current project are: University of Nicosia Medical School, MMC Management Center (Host organisation – Cyprus), Cyprus Certification Company (Cyprus), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Evangelische Hochschule Berlin (Germany), University of Thessaly (Greece) and OmegaTech (Greece). The researchers at the University of Nicosia Medical School which are involved in this study are: Dr Ourania Kolokotroni (Chair of the Department of Primary Care and Population Health), Prof Alexia Papageorgiou (Chair of the Centre for Medical Education) and Dr Constantina Constantinou (Director of Research). The main aim of EmpathyInHealth is to develop a curriculum for empathetic skills development in healthcare practitioners and home carers based on up to date evidence and cutting edge technology tools.

Empathy is key to effective communication between patients and health care practitioners and has been shown to positively affect health outcomes and patient satisfaction as well as to improve patient safety. Communicating with patients is the most frequent practice by health care providers, however communications skills training in undergraduate health care programmes is variable and assessment of interpersonal competencies is often neither reliable nor consistent. Empathetic communication is also very important for patients receiving home care. It is therefore important to enhance empathetic communication in curricula for undergraduate health care programmes and for Vocational Educational and Training (VET) home care programmes. In addition, it is crucial that new technologies are introduced in teaching in order to build new competencies. Virtual Reality (VR) is currently applied in many fields of healthcare education including clinical and interpersonal skills training. EmpathyInHealth activities will include the development of empathetic skills curriculum that will be based on current research evidence and patient participation, and use of this curriculum to create high acuity virtual scenarios. These scenarios will provide a consistent clinical communication experience, enhance empathetic competence in future healthcare workers and carers.