New York Presbyterian Queens is an urban trauma center within a highly diverse population. Data has shown that marginalized populations experience higher volumes of trauma encounters related to injury and violence. Traumatic recidivism is more likely to occur in males who are members of racial minorities with lower socioeconomic status. Repeated trauma encounters are more likely to be fatal. Within our Trauma Center, we propose an intervention to address the communication between providers and patients encountered. There is evidence that supports a link between poor quality communication with ethnic and racial minorities to disparities in outcomes. Since 2002 and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, ‘Unequal Treatment,’ there has been a call to action to address the underlying causes of disparities in healthcare outcomes. Our program will engage participants in a Forum Theater intervention to address the empathy of providers and researchers who encounter diverse populations. Forum Theater in the past has been used to improve communication through increased empathy for the patient experience with regards to difficult conversations. We propose that using this model we will be able to prepare participants (doctoral students, researchers, medical students, and residents) to host uncomfortable conversations regarding race and interracial impacts on healthcare and research. With this intervention we aim to reduce anxiety over communications with racial minority groups encountered in the Trauma program. By doing so our program aims to improve communication between these groups and physicians and/or researchers reducing incidents of perceived racism by these populations. This intervention can increase trust and improve communication to address factors associated with disparities in healthcare outcomes and underrepresentation in research, in addition making health policy more inclusive of other perspectives. Program Methods: As an iterative approach, Forum Theater will focus on clinical scenarios that demonstrate interracial encounters in the acute care or research settings that could be improved with enhanced experiential knowledge on the part of the participants in this program. Additionally, we will employ self-reflection exercises, post-exercise debriefings, didactic presentations (on racial differences in accessing and engaging with healthcare systems) and focus groups. Evaluation of participants’ increased empathy will occur through pre- and post- survey analysis using the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy. Qualitative data to assess increased comfort in hosting discussions will be during recorded guided discussion at the end of each session.
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