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Med Teach. 2011;33(5):388-91. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.530319.

A comparison of medical students' self-reported empathy with simulated patients' assessments of the students' empathy.

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University Clinical Skills and Simulation Center, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.



Empathy is necessary for communication between patients and physicians to achieve optimal clinical outcomes.


To examine associations between Simulated Patients' (SPs) assessment of medical students' empathy and the students' self-reported empathy.


A total of 248 third-year medical students completed the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE). SPs completed the Jefferson Scale of Patient Perceptions of Physician Empathy (JSPPPE), and a global rating of empathy in 10 objective clinical skills examination encounters during a comprehensive end of third-year clinical skills examination.


High correlation was found between the scores on the JSPPPE and the global ratings of empathy completed by the SPs (r = 0.87, p < 0.01). A moderate but statistically significant correlation was observed between scores of the JSPE and the JSPPPE (r = 0.19, p < 0.05). Significant differences were observed on the JSPE and global ratings of empathy among top, middle and low scorers on the JSPPPE in the expected direction.


While significant associations exist between students' self-reported scores on the JSPE and SPs' evaluations of students' empathy, the associations are not large enough to conclude that the two evaluations are redundant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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