SEYED VAHID SHARIAT, MOJTABA HABIBI
Background: Empathy is an important factor in patient–physician relationship that has beneficial effects in medical practice.
Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) has been specifically designed to assess empathy in health professionals (HP-version) and related students (S-version). Few validation studies have been performed on S-version of the scale.
Aims: To examine empathy in a large sample of Iranian medical students, and also to study factor structure and psychometric properties of the Persian translation of the S-version of the JSE.
Method: 1187 medical students (759 female) from 16 universities around the country participated in the study during 2009. Independent sample t-test, multivariate analysis of variance, and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) were performed to analyze the data.
Results: Female students outscored male students in empathy. The trend for empathy had a negative relationship with years of education. JSE showed an acceptable internal consistency and test re-test reliability. CFA upheld the original three-factor structure – Perspective Taking, Compassionate Care, and Standing in the Patient’s Shoes – consisting 20 items.
Conclusion: The decrease in empathy during medical education is consistent with previous studies. The Persian version of JSE is a valid and reliable measure to tap empathy in a Persian-speaking medical student.
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