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Adv Med Sci. 2006;51:219-25.

Empathy in health care providers--validation study of the Polish version of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy.

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Regional High Schools Unit, ul. Zeromskiego 31, 81-346 Gdynia, Poland.



Empathy as a crucial component of the interpersonal relationship needs to be measured, especially in helping professions. We designed this study to adapt both "Student" ("S") Version and "Health Professionals" ("HP") Version of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) to Polish population.


Three instruments were administered to 405 respondents: Polish version of the JSE, Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) measuring four aspects of empathy (i.e. empathic concern, fantasy, personal distress and perspective taking), Emotional Intelligence Scale (EIS). JSE was applied to physicians, nurses and medical, nursing and midwives students in order to calculate reliability coefficient and other psychometric data. In order to assess validity of the scale, the empathy results were correlated with those obtained by respondents on IRI and EIS.


Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient for "S" verSION WAS 0.73, for "HP" version - 0.79, whereas for the entire sample was 0.71. Neither significant differences on empathy scores were found between genders nor among five groups of respondents on JSE. Physicians obtained the highest mean of empathy score (M = 113.06), while the lowest was observed in nurses (M = 110.12). Empathy results on JSE correlated significantly with "empathic concern" (r = 0.25, p < 0.01) and with "perspective taking" (r = 0.26, p < 0.01). Also significant correlation was found between empathy and emotional intelligence.


Despite the lower (but acceptable) reliability coefficient of the Polish JSE in comparison with the original version, the scale proved to be very useful instrument evaluating empathy in health care professionals and students. Further research is needed to identify factors that contribute to changes in psychometric data of the scale.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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