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J Gen Intern Med. 2005 Jul;20(7):559-64.

Relationship between increased personal well-being and enhanced empathy among internal medicine residents.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., USA.



While resident distress and its potential to negatively effect patient care have been well documented, little is known bout resident well-being or its potential to enhance care.


We measured resident well-being and explored its relationship with empathy.


Anonymous, cross-sectional survey.


Internal medicine residents at Mayo Clinic Rochester (n=165, summer 2003).


Well-being was measured using the previously validated Medical Outcomes Study 8-item Short Form (SF-8). Empathy was measured using the previously validated Perspective Taking (PT) and Empathetic Concerns (EC) Sub-scales of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI).


Eighty-three (50%) residents responded to the survey. Mean scores for well-being as measured by the SF-8 were comparable to the general population, and empathy scores on the IRI were similar to other resident samples. Resident empathy on both the cognitive (PT) and emotive (EC) sub-scales of the IRI was higher for residents with higher mental well-being on the SF-8; however, this difference was statistically significant only for the cognitive sub-scale. The importance of a number of personal wellness promotion strategies differed for residents with higher mental well-being on the SF-8.


High mental well-being was associated with enhanced resident empathy in this cross-sectional survey. Future studies need to explore the potential for high resident well-being to enhance medical care and competency in addition to exploring the negative consequences of resident distress. Studies investigating how to promote resident well-being are needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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