Level of Empathy among Medical Students in Kuwait University, Kuwait

Department of Community Medicine and Behavioural Sciences (Biostatistics), Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Jabriya, Kuwait.
Medical Principles and Practice (Impact Factor: 1.34). 03/2013; 22(4). DOI: 10.1159/000348300
Source: PubMed


To evaluate the level of empathy among medical students in Kuwait University Medical School and its association with sociodemographic factors, stress levels and personality.

Subjects and methods:
A cross-sectional survey of 264 medical students was conducted in the Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University. Empathy levels were measured using the Jefferson Scale, personality was assessed using the Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Scale and the Perceived Stress Scale was used to measure stress levels. Factors associated with empathy were evaluated using t test/ANOVA for categorical variables and correlation for continuous predictors.

Mean empathy score was 104.6 ± 16.3. Empathy scores were significantly associated with gender, year of study, mother's level of education, household income, satisfactory relationship with the mother and stress levels. Male medical students in their clinical years also had significantly lower empathy levels. However, factors such as grade point average, desired specialty, marital status of parents, father's educational level and relationship with father were not significantly (p > 0.05) associated with levels of empathy. Stress scores were significantly and positively associated with empathy (r = 0.13; p = 0.041).

Medical students in Kuwait University had low empathy level and this may be a cause for concern; as such we suggest a possible inclusion of emphasis on empathy in the curriculum.

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    • "In consequence, the way in which the affective and cognitive components of empathy are integrated with one another should differ between individuals because not all social factors (among others) affect individuals or groups of individuals in the same manner [29]; in addition, because Faculties of Dentistry receive students with varying degrees of empathy, the necessity emerges to take up the task of shaping this attribute in all educational models. Considering that some authors claim that empathy can be learned in higher education (specifically, in the medical sciences [6] [29]-[31]; the empathic education of Dentistry students (and of all those whose future professions require empathy), is to some extent in the hands of universities [4]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: To compare the empathy of students in two faculties of Dentistry in Peru and Argenti-na, three factors were considered: universities, academic year and gender. Material and Methods: Empathy matrices in Dentistry students were measured using the Jefferson Scale of Empathy, culturally validated in Peru and Argentina. Empathy data were compared among and within the faculties tested using a three-factor analysis of variance (model III), a Duncan test, and a discrimi-nant analysis. The level of significance used was less than 0.05. Results: We found that differences existed between the students tested. The comparison between the levels of empathy in the studied factors and the presence of unexplained variance showed that empathy was able to differentiate populations. Conclusions: The results indicate variability in the empathy values associated with the factors studied. The discriminant test confirms the differences between faculties revealed by the data matrix resulting from the JSE. These differences are possibly due to the effect of educational and social factors.
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