A Cross-sectional Measurement of Medical Student Empathy

Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Journal of General Internal Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.42). 10/2007; 22(10):1434-8. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-007-0298-x
Source: PubMed


Empathy is important in the physician-patient relationship. Prior studies have suggested that physician empathy may decline with clinical training.
To measure and examine student empathy across medical school years.
A cross-sectional study of students at Boston University School of Medicine in 2006. Incoming students plus each class near the end of the academic year were surveyed.
The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy-Student Version (JSPE-S), a validated 20-item self-administered questionnaire with a total score ranging from 20 to 140. JSPE-S scores were controlled for potential confounders such as gender, age, anticipated financial debt upon graduation, and future career interest.
658 students participated in the study (81.4% of the school population). The first-year medical student class had the highest empathy scores (118.5), whereas the fourth-year class had the lowest empathy scores (106.6). Measured empathy differed between second- and third-year classes (118.2 vs 112.7, P < .001), corresponding to the first year of clinical training. Empathy appears to increase from the incoming to the first-year class (115.5 vs 118.5, P = .02). Students preferring people-oriented specialties had higher empathy scores than students preferring technology-oriented specialties (114.6 vs 111.4, P = .002). Female students were more likely than male students to choose people-oriented specialties (51.5 vs 26.9%, P < .001). Females had higher JSPE-S scores than males (116.5 vs 112.1, P < .001). Age and debt did not affect empathy scores.
Empathy scores of students in the preclinical years were higher than in the clinical years. Efforts are needed to determine whether differences in empathy scores among the classes are cohort effects or represent changes occurring in the course of medical education. Future research is needed to confirm whether clinical training impacts empathy negatively, and, if so, whether interventions can be designed to mitigate this impact.

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    • "The results obtained suggest the following generalizations: 1) there are differences between the Dentistry faculties of the universities examined; 2) females display higher empathy levels than males, with some exceptions; 3) empathy levels tend to increase as students progress in their majors; 4) interactions were observed between the factors studied (year and gender); and 5) the unexplained variance may be the expression of currently unknown factors which influence empathy. Previous studies conducted in Latin America [2] [10] [15]-[18] and in other continents [19]-[22] only examine this construct in each population in association with the factors mentioned above (year and gender), but do not compare this attribute between student populations. This study shows that the variability of empathy between populations may constitute a trend. "
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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.
    Health 10/2015; 7(10):1268-1274. DOI:10.4236/health.2015.710141 · 2.10 Impact Factor
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    • "The results of this study show that double-degree paramedic/nursing students generally have a higher regard for complex patients by their third year of study. This result is interesting considering it is opposite to the general trend in medicine where empathy has been shown to decrease (Chen et al., 2007; Ward et al., 2012). Despite the overall positive change, double-degree students had a large drop in empathy towards patients who suffer substance abuse and those who attempted suicide between their second and third year of study. "
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    ABSTRACT: Empathetic behaviour is regarded as a positive trait amongst healthcare professionals and has been attributed to increased patient compliance, greater patient satisfaction, and greater diagnostic accuracy and reduced rates of clinical errors. In particular, paramedic students have typically displayed lower rates of empathy when compared to their healthcare counterparts. The objective of this study is to assess both the level of empathy and changes in empathy in undergraduate paramedic students over a 3-year period at a single tertiary institution. A cross sectional study employing a convenience sample of first, second and third year undergraduate paramedic students at Monash University. Student empathy scores where measured with the Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Health Profession Student version (JSE-HPS); a validated, self-reporting questionnaire. 552 students were enrolled in the study. The mean overall JSE-HPS score for the cohort was 108.60 (SD = 12.50). Female students displayed significantly higher empathy scores of 110.27 (SD = 11.62) compared to males at 105.36 (SD = 13.57). There was also a significant difference (p = 0.03) noted between the 2008 JSE-HPS score 106.32 (SD = 14.02), when compared to the 2009 cohort, 110.18 (SD = 12.91). Results from this study suggest that paramedic students display lower empathy than those reported by fellow healthcare students within the literature.
    Nurse education in practice 10/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.nepr.2015.09.002
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    • "In the present study, the mean empathy score of Korean medical students was higher for female than for male students, in keeping with other studies (Alcorta-Garza et al. 2005; Kliszcz et al. 2006; Chen et al. 2007; Fernández-Olano et al. 2008). In addition, higher empathy scores were found among lower grade level and post-baccalaureate students. "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Background: Previous studies on empathy in Korean medical students were conducted on small populations or with different scales of measurement, resulting in low representativeness and generalisability of the findings. Aim: To evaluate empathy in Korean medical students throughout the country and to make suggestions to improve empathy. Methods: The Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) (Korean) was used, and the impact of sex, age, the medical school admission system, and grade of the respondents was investigated. Results: We analyzed 5343 questionnaires and found a mean empathy score of 105.9 ± 12.8. Females and post-baccalaureate students had higher scores as compared with their counterparts. There was a significant difference between the admission systems after controlling for gender. Students from higher grade levels had lower scores than those from the lower grade levels. Conclusions: The JSE score of Korean medical students was lower than that of students in Western countries. The difference of gender and medical school admission system should be considered, and capability to apply empathy to clinical practice should be focused upon in medical training.
    Medical Teacher 09/2014; DOI:10.3109/0142159X.2014.956058 · 1.68 Impact Factor
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