Gregory Austin's Research Interests

Past Research

PhD Dissertation:  The relationship between work stressors and clinical empathy for hospital based physicians and nurses. 

Although previous research indicated a relationship between burnout and empathy, no relationship was found between specific work stressors and clinical empathy. The research did show differences in work stressors when comparing physicians and nurses as well as males and females.

Current Active Research

With colleague Cherry Karl, Ph.D., R.N., we are constructing a phenomenological study of nursing students in a unique hybrid RN to BSN program.  There has been previous research on cohort and hybrid nursing programs.  However, to date there has been no research found on RN to BSN hybrid programs.  The goals of the research are to gain more insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the hybrid RN to BSN model as well as glean feedback from the experiences of the students to improve the hybrid experience. 

Research Plan

In addition to current research, Dr. Austin is continuing to research the concept of empathy and work stressors with healthcare workers.  Research has shown that empathy has been linked with decreased anxiety and hostility in patients (LaMonica, Wolf, and Oberst, 1987), patient satisfaction and patient compliance with physician orders (Kim et al., 2004), reduction in diabetic A1c test results (Hojat et al., 2011), as well as an inverse relationship between a physician’s empathy and medical errors (West et al., 2006).  With the goal of improving patient care and the work experience of healthcare professionals, future research would expand the investigation of work stressors and empathy to include other forms of healthcare workers including nurse technicians, home healthcare workers, and family caregivers to name a few.  The concepts of Hardiness (Kobasa, 1979) and Emotional Intelligence and their potential to mediate stress will also be researched.  In addition, Dr. Austin plans to expand work stressors research to non-profit organization’s to help improve the workplace.