Background: Empathy is an important factor in the relationship between the therapist and the patient and leaves positive impacts on the health outcomes.
Objectives: To investigate the level of empathy for patients among students of Zanjan University of Medical Sciences.
Methods: The present cross-sectional study was carried out in Zanjan University of Medical Sciences. A sample of 420 students was selected based on stratified sampling method. Jefferson Scale of Empathy was used to measure the level of empathy. Scores in the range of 20-60, 61-100, and 101-140 were regarded as the low, moderate, and high level of empathy, respectively. Data analysis was performed using independent t-test and one-way ANOVA in SPSS-16..
Results: The total score of empathy of students was 103.5±16. The lowest and highest scores in empathy were obtained in dimensions of “standing in the patient’s shoes” and “compassionate care”, respectively. The mean score of empathy for male students (102.15±5.23) was lower than that of females (103.16±2.39). Scores of empathy subscales, except “perspective taking”, were higher in female students than male ones. In addition, there was a significant difference between male and female students in terms of the mean score of “perspective taking”, “compassionate care”, and “standing in the patient’s shoes”.
Conclusion: The study findings indicated that the level of empathy for patients among the studied students is moderate and higher. However, given the positive impacts of empathy on treatment outcomes, it is recommended that students’ level of empathy be further improved through appropriate interventions.