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Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2010 Oct;29(172):277-81.

[Empathy-building of physicians. Part I--A review of applied methods].

[Article in Polish]

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Pomorski Uniwersytet Medyczny w Szczecinie, Zakład Historii Medycyny i Etyki Lekarskiej.


Clinical empathy is a multidimensional concept consisting of four attributes: cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and motivational. Empathy involves an interest in and understanding of patients' experiences, concerns, and perspectives associated with illness combined with a capacity to care and an intention to help. Empathy in the context of clinical care is believed to be beneficial not only to the patients, but also to health professionals. Thus, enhancing empathy in future physicians is one of the important tasks of medical education. In spite of the consensus among medical educators that clinical empathy can, and should be, cultivated and enriched, empirical studies have shown a decline in empathy during medical education. The objective of these series of review articles is to identify and describe strategies and methods used to enhance empathy in medical students and residents. We searched PubMed, ProQuest, Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), MedLine and Polish Medical Bibliography (Polska Bibliografia Lekarska), for studies addressing the strategies for teaching empathy to medical students, published from 1990 to the present. Results of the literature search reveal, that medical educators have employed a variety of methods and approaches to enhance students' empathy. In this review, we grouped these methods into five approaches, namely, early clinical exposure, playing a role of a patient, exposure to literature and the arts, improving skills associated with empathy, exposure to role models. These methods will be dealt with in details in the follow up papers.

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