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Empathy in Medical Residents at Iran University of Medical Sciences

Author(s): Seyed Vahid Shariat | Ala Kaykhavoni

Journal: Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology
ISSN 1735-4315

Volume: 16;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 248;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: empathy; medical residents; medical specialties

AbstractObjectives: There is a dearth of empirical research on physician empathy despite its mediating role in patient-physician relationships and clinical outcomes. Due to a lack of a single definition and a precise measurement tool, research in this area had been limited until recently and to the best of our knowledge, this is the first research carried out on this subject in Iran. In this study, the level of empathy in medical residents was assessed using the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy. Method: The study sample consisted of 251 residents in hospitals affiliated to Iran University of Medical Sciences in 2008. The retest reliability and internal consistency of the questionnaire was first tested on 20 residents, which resulted in acceptable figures. Results: Psychiatry residents had a mean empathy score of 114.2, which was higher than residents of other specialties were. This was followed by scores of residents of anesthesiology, surgery, pathology, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, ENT, radiology, orthopedics, pediatrics, ophthalmology, and dermatology. Mean empathy score in psychiatry residents had significant difference with those of orthopedics, pediatrics, ophthalmology and dermatology. There was no significant difference in mean empathy score with regard to age, marital status and sex. Conclusion: Even though the present study showed an appropriate face validity and reliability, the results were different in some aspects with those of other countries. This could be due to the lack of sufficient attention to humanistic aspects of doctor-patient relationship in the educational context of medicine in Iran, the mismatch between residents’ medical career and their true preferences, as well as cultural differences.

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