Emotional intelligence in medicine: A systematic review through the context of the ACGME competencies

Sonal Arora*, Hutan Ashrafian, Rachel Davis, Thanos Athanasiou, Ara Darzi, Nick Sevdalis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

249 Citations (Scopus)


Medical Education 2010: 44: 749-764 Objectives Emotional intelligence (EI) involves the perception, processing, regulation and management of emotions. This article aims to systematically review the evidence for EI in medicine through the context of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) competencies. Methods MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched for English-language articles published between January 1980 and March 2009. The grey literature was also searched and experts in the field contacted for additional studies. Two independent reviewers selected articles which reported empirical research studies about clinicians or medical students. Conceptual articles and opinion pieces and commentaries were excluded. Information about the measure used to assess EI, the study parameter or domain, and the educational or clinical outcome (with specific relation to the ACGME competencies) was extracted. Results The literature search identified 485 citations. An abstract review led to the retrieval of 24 articles for full-text assessment, of which 16 articles were included in the final review. Eleven studies focused on postgraduates, four on undergraduates and one on medical school applicants. Six out of seven studies found women to have higher EI than men. Higher EI was reported to positively contribute to the doctor-patient relationship (three studies), increased empathy (five studies), teamwork and communication skills (six studies), and stress management, organisational commitment and leadership (three studies). Conclusions Measures of EI correlate with many of the competencies that modern medical curricula seek to deliver. Further research is required to determine whether training can improve EI and thus augment educational and clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-764
Number of pages16
JournalMedical Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2010


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