Empathy is an essential part of a meaningful patient-physician relationship and has a positive role in clinical outcomes. Cultivating empathy is considered to be one of the most important objectives of the liberal education for physicians. The purpose of this study is to explore medical students' feelings about physician empathy and to examine the relationship between empathy and specialty preference. The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy-Student Version, JSPE-S Version, was administered to 680 first-year medical students from seven medical schools in two consecutive years starting with the 2003 academic year. The specialty preference of the students was also collected. A total 596 students completed the questionnaire and male students made up 74.0% of this study population. There was a significant difference in the JSPE score between the first and second years (64.60±6.16vs. 62.45±5.62, p＜0.001). The JSPE empathy scores were found to be lower for the second year in all but two medical schools. This decrease in score applied to both male and female students and there was no detectable gender difference (male: 64.74±6.06vs. 62.51±5.64) (female: 64.22±6.44 vs. 62.28±5.58). The JSPE scores of students preferring a people-oriented specialty were significantly higher than those preferring a technology-oriented specialty (62.77±5.62 vs. 61.68±5.48). As this study took place during the students' premedical program, the decline in empathy score and how empathy plays a role in specialty selection need to be further investigation as we follow this cohort of students through their future medical education.
|Number of pages||7|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|