Assessment of empathy among undergraduate medical students

Kulkarni Meenal Vinay, Pathak Swanand

Abstract


Background: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Empathy is the cornerstone of the physician –patient relationship. Empathy is a desirable quality among clinicians and can be developed during medical education.

Objectives: To measure the mean score of empathy among medical students and to compare the score of empathy among various semesters and among male and female students.

Method: A cross sectional questionnaire based study was conducted among 174 undergraduate medical students from IV, VI and VIII semesters at NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences and research center, Nagpur. The assessment of empathy was done by using the Jefferson’s scale of Physician’s empathy –student version. Data was analyzed by using T test and ANOVA test. The total score possible ranges from 20-140.

Results: Mean score of empathy was found to be 99.25± 13.81. The score range was from 63-125. Mean score of empathy was found to be better among female students (101.30±14.534) as compared to male students (97.05±12.717). Difference between scores among male and female students was found to be statistically significant (T=2.05, p value<0.05). When mean empathy scores were compared among various semesters by ANOVA test, it was not found to be statistically significant.

Conclusions: Female students were found to be more empathetic as compared to the male students. Females are more receptive to emotions than males. There is no decline or increase in the mean empathy scores among various semesters.

 

Keywords: Empathy, Medical students, Mean score, Jefferson’s scale

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