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Background: Ineffective communication among healthcare team members is associated with decreased collaborative efforts and adverse patient outcomes. The impact of empathy on collaboration with colleagues and patient interaction has been previously demonstrated. Studies have yet to measure the impact of (Nonviolent Communication [NVC]) on empathy in nursing students.

Purpose: The purpose of this mixed methods study was to test a communication intervention (NVC) with baccalaureate student nurses to examine its effect on empathy.

Methods: A mixed methods single group pre/post test design incorporating the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) to measure empathy was used. A paired samples t test was calculated to compare means scores pre and post intervention. One-way ANOVA was used to examine between group differences. Interpretive methods were used to analyze qualitative data collected via journal entries during the training and focus groups immediately following and 2 years post intervention.

Results/Findings: Quantitative results revealed an increase in empathy (69.1 to 71.4, p = .037) post training. Qualitative analyses demonstrated positive impact of NVC in empathizing with self and others. Clinical impact was especially noted when working with psychiatric patients.

Conclusion: Incorporating NVC into nursing education could feasibly prevent future hardship as students advance their nursing careers. Further research may be needed to capture the larger impact that NVC could have on nurses and nursing students.


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