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Ann Afr Med. 2018 Oct-Dec;17(4):183-188. doi: 10.4103/aam.aam_57_17.

Empathy among undergraduate medical students: A cross-sectional study in one Malaysian public medical school.

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Faculty of Medicine and Defence Health, Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia, (National Defence University of Malaysia), Kem Perdana Sungai Besi, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Centre for Medical Sciences Education, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago.
Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, West Indies, Barbados.
The Department of Pharmacology, Eastern Medical College, Comilla, Kabila, Dhaka-Chittagong Highway, Burichang 3520, Bangladesh.
Medical Education and Quality Assurance, Asia Metropolitan University, No.6, Jalan Lembah Bandar Seri Alam, 81750 Johor Bahru, Malaysia.


in English, French


Empathy is one of the cardinal components for physician-patient relationships, optimal outcomes in patient care, improved patient satisfaction, greater adherence to therapy, and lower malpractice liability. It is also considered an essential quality for health-care professionals to practice medicine. The aim of the present study was to assess the empathy level of medical students of Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) National Defense University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


This was a cross-sectional study conducted in 2017 which recruited medical students of UPNM. The Empathy Quotient, a self-reported questionnaire, was utilized for data collection. The total empathy score of the questionnaire is 80.


Majority of the respondents were male (60.9%), year-V students (26.6%), Malay (70.5%), and cadet officer (69.6%). The overall mean score achieved by the respondents was 36.76 ± 9.18, and 74.4% of the respondents scored more than 30. The empathy scores of the students were significantly affected by the gender (t = 2.371; df = 205; P < 0.05), year of study (F = 2.553; df = 4/202; P < 0.05), and examination grades (F = 3.488; df = 2/204; P < 0.05). The findings showed that female students are more empathetic than their male counterparts. Further, the post hoc Tukey test analysis revealed that Year-V students are more empathetic than their junior counterparts and students who got highest grade are more empathetic.


To improve the empathy level of the UPNM medical students, appropriate educational strategies and interventions should be designed and implemented in the curriculum to inculcate, maintain, and enhance empathy.


Empathy; Malaysia; examination grades; undergraduate medical students; year of study

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