Emotional exhaustion among healthcare providers (HCPs) is a critical issue worldwide. HCPs’ burnout has been linked to poor patient care, substance abuse, relational problems, depression symptoms and suicide1. In specialties such as hematology-oncology, professionals are confronted daily with emotionally charged situations related to suffering and death2. This could result in difficult relationships with patients.
Empathy is an essential component of harmonious relationships between HCPs and patients3. It has been described as an attribute that involves an emotional response to patients emotions and an understanding of the inner experiences of patients3. While empathy allows HCPs to better ‘read’ patients, this ability is also linked to susceptibility to burnout3. According to Decety et al. (2005), empathy is possible when the person experiences an emotional response to the feelings of another person, can make a distinction between self and other and is able to adequately regulate one’s emotions. If HCPs have difficulties regulating their emotions, they may become emotionally drained over time4,5.
Some emotional competencies are central to empathy, such as identifying one’s own emotions, identifying other’s emotions and accepting emotions. Identification of emotions refers to the ability to recognize and name emotions6. Emotional acceptance is a form of emotion regulation that involves experiencing emotions with a nonjudgmental attitude and without the tendency to avoid them7. These competencies could help prevent emotional confusion, and thus emotional exhaustion.
Supporting HCPs by improving their emotional competencies has thus become increasingly important8. Better emotional competencies have been reported to p...
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Among the studies measuring empathy and emotional competencies, we systematically assessed risk of bias using an adaptation of Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias (Table S3). We rated the following domains: selection, attribution, reporting and other bias. Two reviewers (ML and ER) independently performed the rating of bias. Discrepancies were resolved through discussion. We did not assess bias on the whole pool of study (all outcomes) as a large body of this pool already had been the subject of a recent review22.
We conducted this systematic review according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines29 (checklist available in Table S5). We registered the protocol on Prospero (International prospective register of systematic reviews) on October 22 2014, number CRD42014014232.
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