Paramedics developing rapport with the elderly: a pilot study

Objective:The objective of this study was to investigate whether paramedic students’ active engagement with elderly patients would enhance their ability to develop rapport with elderly patients and what impact guided self-reflection would have on this.Methods:This pilot study utilised mixed methodology incorporating an interventional study design with focus groups. Paramedic students from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia participated in an engagement activity with independently living elderly residents. The Rapport Questionnaire (RQ) and focus groups were used to evaluate the project.Results:Eleven undergraduate paramedics participated (n=11). Data analysis of the RQ revealed three items to be statistically significant and have a large effect size: Confident (p<0.01, r=0.55), Empathetic (p=0.03, r=0.48) and Overall ability to develop rapport (p<0.01, r=0.58). The guided self-reflection group improved most substantially across three areas: Confident (p=0.09, r=0.37), Empathetic (p=0.18, r=0.29) and Overall (p=0.14, r=0.3), while the control group improved in the Empathetic item only (p=0.75, r=0.07).Conclusion:Student's recorded improved confidence, empathy and overall ability to build rapport with the elderly through this engagement activity. In addition, students who receive guided self-reflection displayed greater improvements in the above three areas than their control counterparts. The results were substantial and warrant further research in this area.

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