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Niger J Clin Pract. 2019 Oct;22(10):1403-1407. doi: 10.4103/njcp.njcp_605_18.

Are empathy and emotional intelligence missing in dental practitioner's toolkit in Saudi Arabia? A cross-sectional study.

Author information

Department of Periodontics and Community Dental Sciences, College of Dentistry, King Khalid University, Abha, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Sciences, College of Dentistry, King Khalid University, Abha, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Department of Dental Technology, College of Applied Medical Science, King Khalid University, Abha, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.



Empathy and emotional intelligence (EI) of a dentist are two factors vital for developing fruitful relations between clinicians and patients. Establishing a good relationship with patients may improve patients' outcomes. Data on empathy and EI in dental practitioners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is scarce.


Hence, we aimed to evaluate and compare empathy and EI among dental practitioners in Abha and Khamis Mushayat cities of Saudi Arabia.


We conducted a cross-sectional survey study. A total of 183 dental practitioners who were reachable at survey time were included. A self-administered questionnaire on empathy and EI was structured based on Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (health professions version) and Schutte's Emotional Intelligence Scale, respectively. Statistical analysis was done using Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis tests.


No significant difference was observed between both genders regarding empathy and EI (P = 0.73 and 0.97, respectively). Similarly, no significant difference was observed between participants with different qualifications or different work settings (P > 0.05). However, a statistically significant positive correlation was observed between empathy and EI (r = 0.722).


Irrespective of gender, qualification, or different work settings, dental practitioners in both cities showed adequate empathy and EI levels. Dentists with high empathy scores seem to show high EI levels.

Clinical Significance:

Evaluating and monitoring empathy and EI practice among dental practitioners have paramount importance to improve clinical practice and healing potential of patients. Low levels of empathy and EI practice would suggest modifications to training curriculum or healthcare policies.


Emotional intelligence; Jefferson scale of physician empathy; Schutte's emotional intelligence scale; empathy


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