Empathy & Relational Science Program

The mission of the Empathy and Relational Science Program is to enhance empathy and interpersonal relationships in healthcare.

Empathy & Relational Science Program

EmpathyOur team’s focus is on empathy in the patient-clinician relationship. Our research is grounded in the neurobiology and physiology of human interaction and emotion and is informed by relational sciences. We offer evidence-based empathy education that optimizes the patient experience, promoting respectful, compassionate, and effective communication at all levels of healthcare.

Studies have demonstrated that the degree of clinician empathy plays a significant role in improving outcomes in medicine, predicting quality of care, patient safety and satisfaction, and in decreasing malpractice claims. We also participate in interdisciplinary research collaborations and believe that empathy plays an important role across industries, including fields such as executive coaching, management and leadership, and education.

Contact information

How to contact us:
Please send us an email to receive more information about our program.
Dr. Helen Riess
Meet Our Staff
Our staff combines years of experience with the latest research and techniques to provide tools to enhance the patient experience

Research Activities
Ongoing research includes the development and pilot testing of a sophisticated empathy training program for healthcare professionals to improve patient outcomes

New Article: Using the potential of professional coaching to address physician burnout

New report details program successes

New report: Study confirms impact of clinician-patient relationship on health outcomes

A Patient's Testimonial

Nila Webster talks about the power of empathy at Mt. Auburn Hospital Grand Rounds

Drs. Fricchone and RiessDr. Helen Riess receives 2013 Partners Medical Education Research Award
Dr. Riess accepted the award from Dr. Gregory Fricchone. See more information about the 2013 Medical Education Award Recipients here. Read more about Dr. Riess' work here

Learn more about this program:
  • History of Our Program
    Decades of academic and pedagogical experience in optimizing the patient-physician relationship have contributed to the development of our program
  • Our Training Activities
    Our training program uses research-based techniques to help healthcare providers.


Proto magazine

Proto magazine stakes its ground on medicine's leading edge, reporting back from the frontiers of research and practice - exploring breakthroughs, dissecting controversies and opening a forum for informed debate.

Research at Mass General

Discover the largest hospital-based research program in the U.S. and how clinicians and scientists chart new terrain in biomedical research to treat and prevent human disease and bring the latest advances to patient care

Support the Department of Psychiatry

When you support the Department of Psychiatry, you are making a significant contribution to advancing care at the hospital.