HomeHealth Sciences Journalvol. 2 no. 2 (2013)

Patient empathy among medical students

Marivic Amigable Villamor

Discipline: Education, Health



Introduction Medicine at its core is a human service profession with the goal of caring for patients. It is expected that a physician practices medicine that combines the life sciences with humanism. Many observations have been reported on the dehumanization and lack of empathy among medical practitioners. This study aimed to determine empathy among medical students in terms of sex and year level.

Methods This study established the reliability of the 30-item Patient Empathy Scale for Medical Students and compared the empathic attitudes of medical students. A sample of 186 third and fourth year medical students of a private institution was selected as respondents. Data analysis included the estimation of internal consistency using Cronbach's α and factorial ANOVA to determine the influence of sex and year level on the empathy of the  medical students.

Results The PESMS had a high reliability coefficient (r = 0.907). A significant difference in the empathy scores was confirmed in terms of sex (P < 0.01) and year level (P = 0.01). However, there was no significant interaction between sex and year level (P = 0.97).

Discussion The high reliability coefficient confirmed the consistency or close relation among individual items in the scale and therefore measured an underlying or latent construct of empathy. Analysis provided evidence that a difference in the mean empathy scores existed in terms of sex and year level. However, no interaction between sex and year level was substantiated.

Conclusion: The females displayed more empathic attributes compared to their male counterparts while the third year students were more empathic compared to the fourth year students.