To evaluate the relationship between training in theatre improvisation and empathy, communication, and other professional skills.


Undergraduate and graduate students who were participants of a 10-week summer undergraduate research program engaged in theatre improvisation techniques during a 3-hour workshop. In Study #1, a de-identified, self-report questionnaire (known as the Empathy Quotient) was administered prior to and following the workshop. Paired sample 2-tailed t-tests were performed to evaluate pre- and post-test scores. To identify additional benefits of engaging in theatre improvisation techniques, Study #2 was performed. Here, a survey was administered to the participants following their completion of the workshop to assess the impact on their personal growth and professional skills. An additional survey was administered at the end of the 10-week program to evaluate all program activities.


Study #1. Paired t-test analyses indicated that pre-test versus post-test Empathy Quotient scores were not significantly different, implying that participation in the theatre improvisation workshop did not impact empathy. Study #2. Survey results indicate that participation in the theatre improvisation workshop encouraged feelings of support by peers and creative thinking as well as increasing communication skills.


Incorporating a theatre improvisation workshop into educational programs for pre-medical and pre-biomedical students is of value for enhancing self-confidence, oral communication skills and ability to think creatively.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development, v. 8.

© The Author(s) 2021

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

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Funding Information

This study was supported by NIEHS/NIH R25 ES 027684, NIEHS/NIH P30 ES026529, NIEHS/NIH grant P42ES007380 and by a grant from the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.