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Emotional intelligence development in radiation therapy students: a longitudinal study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 October 2015

Mary-Ann Carmichael
School of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane 4001, Australia
Pete Bridge*
School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK
Anita Harriman
School of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane 4001, Australia
Correspondence to: Pete Bridge, Directorate of Medical Imaging and Radiotherapy, University of Liverpool, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L69 3BX, Merseyside, UK. Tel: +44 794 424 4626. E-mail:



Emotional intelligence (EI) is an increasingly important aspect of a health professional’s skill set. It is strongly associated with empathy, reflection and resilience; all key aspects of radiotherapy practice. Previous work in other disciplines has formed contradictory conclusions concerning development of EI over time. This study aimed to determine the extent to which EI can develop during a radiotherapy undergraduate course and identify factors affecting this.

Methods and materials

This study used anonymous coded Likert-style surveys to gather longitudinal data from radiotherapy students relating to a range of self-perceived EI traits during their 3-year degree. Data were gathered at various points throughout the course from the whole cohort.


A total of 26 students provided data with 14 completing the full series of datasets. There was a 17·2% increase in self-reported EI score with a p-value<0·0001. Social awareness and relationship skills exhibited the greatest increase in scores compared with self-awareness. Variance of scores decreased over time; there was a reduced change in EI for mature students who tended to have higher initial scores. EI increase was most evident immediately after clinical placements.


Radiotherapy students increase their EI scores during a 3-year course. Students reported higher levels of EI immediately after their clinical placement; radiotherapy curricula should seek to maximise on these learning opportunities.

Original Articles
© Cambridge University Press 2015 

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