Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 40  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 364-369

An epidemiological study on empathy and its correlates: A cross-sectional assessment among medical students of a government medical college of India

1 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Bijit Biswas
Sarat Sarani More (G. T. Road), Post-Bandel, Hooghly, Kolkata - 712 123, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_109_18

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Background: Empathy is a desirable quality in every clinician. It is a crucial determinant of patient–physician communication and relation. There are very few existent Indian studies on empathy of medical students and its correlates. Aim: The aim of the study was to assess empathy level of medical students and its correlates. Methodology: It was a cross-sectional, hospital-based, analytical observational study conducted from July to November 2017. In total, 249 undergraduate medical students of a medical college of Kolkata were interviewed with a structured schedule. The schedule comprised of the sociodemographic questionnaire, career satisfaction, future career choice, and Jefferson Scale of Empathy. Results: The mean empathy score was 98.5 ± 12.5. Third-semester students had higher empathy scores (102.4 ± 12.4) compared to fifth (97.2 ± 12.9) and seventh semester (95.0 ± 10.9) students. The difference between the mean scores of different semesters was statistically significant. Female students were more empathic than male students. In the multivariable linear regression model, sex, semester, residence, career satisfaction, future career choice, and current place of living were significant predictors of empathy scores. Conclusion: Empathy level of medical students of our study was quite low compared to other studies conducted outside India. Empathy eroded with semester, which supports earlier pieces of evidence in this regard.

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