Educational interventions to improve emotional intelligence in nursing and medical students: A systematic review

Molly Taylor, Johanna Hoch, Ke'La Porter


Purpose: Emotional intelligence (EI) is a trainable skillset and has been shown to have a positive impact on clinician wellbeing, patient outcomes, and other personal and professional factors. This review aimed to evaluate and summarize current intervention strategies designed to improve EI in nursing and medical students.

Results: Interventions varied by theme, content, learning activities, and duration. Nine different EI measurement instruments were utilized; learning outcomes were assessed by modified Kirkpatrick classifications. Nine out of 12 studies showed significant positive improvements in EI outcome measures post-intervention. Our review demonstrated moderate to high quality OCEBM level 1b and 2b evidence, moderate quality MERSQI/NOS-E risk of bias appraisal, and GRADE-defined desirable intervention effects with respect to positive modifications in Kirkpatrick identified learner perceptions and attitudes.

Conclusions: Nearly all interventions resulted in positive change in EI. The greatest improvements resulted from intervention content relating to self-awareness, empathy, problem-solving, stress coping, and use/management of emotions, involved group-based learning activities, and were delivered in 10-15 hours spread over 8-12 weeks. No specific recommendations can be made about timing of interventions within nursing or medical professional curricula. Further research and development of objective behavioral EI skill assessments and patient outcomes is warranted.


Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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