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Int Nurs Rev. 2010 Dec;57(4):493-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-7657.2010.00832.x. Epub 2010 Sep 14.

Empathy: the effects of undergraduate nursing education in Turkey.

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Psychiatric Nursing Department, School of Nursing, Gulhane Military Medical Academy, Etlik, Ankara, Turkey.



To evaluate the empathic skills and the empathetic tendency of nursing students throughout their years of undergraduate education.


Empathy is a major component of the relationships between patients and nurses, and is an observable and teachable skill that nurses are claimed to possess.


A cross-sectional study was designed to determine the differences in the empathic skills and tendency of nursing students in the successive years of undergraduate nursing education. A longitudinal study was also designed to evaluate the changes between the beginning and the end of the nursing education in the same group. All the registered students were asked to participate in the study. The total population was 466 nursing students of whom 438 participated (94%) in the cross-sectional study and 81 in the longitudinal study. The Empathic Communication Skills Scale (ECSS) and the Empathic Tendency Scale (ETS) were used to collect data.


An increase in the ECSS and a decrease in the ETS were observed in both the cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Comparing the years, fourth-year students have higher empathic skills level, whereas newly registered students have a higher empathic tendency score (P<0.05).


The findings have shown that empathic skills developed during undergraduate nursing education. However, empathetic tendency has shown a decline during these educational years. The decrease in empathetic tendency during undergraduate education should be taken into account, and educators and researchers should consider possible reasons for this outcome. Further research is indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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