Empathetic Phone Calls

This interesting study (MK Kahlon et al. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online February 23, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0113. Effect of Layperson-Delivered, Empathy-Focused Program of Telephone Calls on Loneliness, Depression, and Anxiety Among Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic) showed empathetic phone calls to adults (63% were 65 and older) reduced loneliness and depression.

Methods: Sixteen callers, aged 17 to 23 years, were briefly trained in empathetic conversational techniques. Each called 6 to 9 participants over 4 weeks daily for the first 5 days, after which clients could choose to drop down to fewer calls but no less than 2 calls a week.

Key finding: A layperson-delivered, empathy-oriented telephone call program reduced loneliness, depression, and anxiety compared with the control group and improved the general mental health of participants within 4 weeks.