An online intervention increases empathy, resilience, and work engagement among physical therapy students

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Health professions students often experience burnout and loss of empathy that worsens as they progress through their education. This study explored the impact of an evidence-based online course on physical therapy student empathy, resilience, and work engagement during their clinical internships. Participants included 36 doctoral physical therapy students who were beginning a sequence of three consecutive internships following their didactic coursework. Participants were randomly assigned to an immediate or delayed intervention group and received the online course during the first or second of the three internships. Outcome measures included the Jefferson Scale of Empathy, Utrecht Work Engagement scale, and GRIT resilience scale. The immediate intervention group made significant improvements in all three measures between the first and second internships compared to the delayed intervention group. These improvements were maintained over the 10-week duration of the second internship. The delayed intervention group made no significant changes in the three measures during the first internship; however, these each improved significantly at the end of the second internship. The study results suggest that online training can positively enhance physical therapy student empathy, resilience, and work engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-203
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Allied Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this