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Th e impact of emotional intelligence and distress in legal medicine

Autor: Lavinia Hogea Laura Nussbaum Luminița Ageu Iulia Bianca Micu Șerbu Adriana Cojocaru Viorel Lupu
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This paper aims at the issue of empathy and emotional distress in Forensic Medicine. Th e study was conducted on a group of 30 people aged between 36 and 60, with a work experience between 10 and 40 years, forensic experts. For data collection, the Profi le of Aff ective Distress (PDA) and Emotional Intelligence (SEI) questionnaires were used. Th e results show that there are signifi cant diff erences between the groups regarding the length of service, for the emotional distress scale as well as for the empathy scale. Th e results showed that both women and men are equally emphatetic, with no diff erences it comes to regulating the emotions of others and emotions evaluation. Keywords: distress, emotional intelligence, Forensic Medicine, empathy

The medical-forensic clinic and pathology are the two cutting-edge medical disciplines where doctors often receive informations that are agonizing traumatic from a psychological point of view, firsthand information, in the form of historical results, of examination and investigation. They do not receive the information in an ad-hoc manner (as the emergency department physicians), but in a daily continuous way, throughout their active career [1, 2]. The short and long term implications on the physician’s psychological health as well as the defence mechanisms in the doctor’s way of thinking and the implications on their personality and behaviour have been very poorly researched [3-5].

The study was conducted on a group of 30 people aged between 36 and 60, having a work seniority between 10 and 40 years, forensic experts working on the territory of Romania, namely in Bucharest, Craiova, Cluj and Târgu Mureș. The average age of the group is 48 years, of which 12 subjects are female, with the remaining 18 subjects being male. Subjects participating in this study were asked to complete two questionnaires: Profile of Affective Distress (PDA) and Emotional Intelligence (SEI), previously signing a consent to be included in the study. The scale of affective distress is a tool developed for the purpose of assessing the subjective dimension of functional negative emotions, dysfunctional negative emotions, and positive emotions [2]. The emotional intelligence scale includes 4 subscales: emotion assessment (EvE); personal emotion adjustment (REP); the emotions regulation of others (REC) and the emotions utilisation (EU) [3, 4].

Figure 1 shows that there is a weak link between the two variables; only 7.7 percent of positive emotions have an influence on the regulation of personal emotions

From the graphical representation below (Figure 2) it appears that between the two variables, a weak link exists, namely 4% of the positive emotions influence the regulation of the emotions of the others.

By testing the relationship of negative emotionsadjusting personal emotions we can observe that a weak link exists, only 6.6% of negative emotions are affecting the regulation of personal emotions (Figure 3).

As in the case above, it has been demonstrated that negative emotions have only a slight influence regarding the regulation of the emotions of others, expressed by a percentage of 1% (Figure 4).

For the working seniority range of 10 to 20 years, a correlation coefficient equal to 0.229 was obtained, which suggests that there is a direct correlation between variables, moderately to poor (Table I). The Sig. corresponding value is equal to 0.499> 0.05, which indicates that an insignificant correlation coefficient was obtained; there is an insignificant correlation between the two, that is to say, between 10-20 years of work and the total PDA score is a direct, moderate to poor correlation.

For the range of 20-30 years of working seniority, a correlation coefficient of -0.429 was obtained, indicating that there is a inverted correlation between variables, moderate to poor (Table II). The value of Sig. is equal to 0.097 <0.05, which shows that an insignificant correlation coefficient was obtained, there is an insignificant correlation between the two. In conclusion, there is a moderate to moderate backward correlation between the range of 20-30 years of work and the total PDA score.

For the group of subjects with the range of 3040 year working experience, a correlation coefficient of 0.749 resulted, suggesting that there is a direct, moderate to strong correlation between the variables (Table III). The value of Sig. is 0.461> 0.05, which signifies an insignificant correlation coefficient, there is an insignificant correlation between the two. In other words, there is a direct, moderate to strong correlation between the working experience of the 30-40 years range and the total PDA score.

Following the statistical results, taking into account the three working time intervals and the total PDA score, we can say that there is no correlation between the two. The obtained correlation coefficient is equal to 0.080 and the value of Sig. is equal to 0.815> 0.05, which indicates that an insignificant correlation coefficient was obtained; between the working experience of 10-20 years and the QE score there is a direct but very poor correlation (Table IV).

In the present case, a correlation coefficient equal to 0.687 was obtained, Sig value is 0.003 <0.05, which shows a significant relation between the two; between the working experience of 20-30 years and the total QE score there is a direct and moderate correlation (Table V).

The correlation coefficient is 0.984, the value of Sig. being 0.114> 0.05, showing an insignificant relation; between the group with a working experience of 30-40 years and the total QE score there is a direct, strong correlation (Table VI).

Following the statistical results, taking into account the three intervals of work and the total QE score, we may affirm that the result is inconclusive, because a significant correlation coefficient was obtained only in the range of 20-30 years of working experience. Following the Levene test, we notice that there are no significant differences regarding other’s emotion regulation for the two genres: masculine and feminine.

Studies show that the burnout syndrome is present in more than half of the physicians. This affects the professional efficiency and well-being of the doctor, which leads to the development of dysfunctional defense mechanisms, such as the distancing from professional tasks and the negative attitude towards his work [6-9].
In most experimental studies, distress and the burnout syndrome correlate negatively with emotional intelligence respectively empathy, which suggests that patholigists with a high level of burnout are less able to appreciate and constructively express their own emotional feelings and the relationing with others; this proves inefficiency in the management and proactive use of emotions in the solving of the problematic situations [10-15]. Psychologists who have tried to make a correlation between distress-burnout have concluded that from all the distress factors (workload, reduced time, poorly motivated colleagues), one of the most serious factors is the lack of staff [16-21].

Analyzing the scientific literature as well as the results of the current study, it was concluded that the work experience has no influence on the total PDA score, namely distress: The same results for the first and the last age range were also reported in the case of the influence on QE, namely empathy, except for the range of 2030 years of working experience where the correlation coefficient is significant, direct. Analyzing the scientific literature as well as the results of the current study, it was concluded that age positively influences the emotional intelligence, respectively empathy, and adversely distress. The current study may provide useful data for some future experimental work. A future perspective may represent the analysis of the correlations between the many variables existing in the paper.

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