Korte animatie over het verschil tussen empathie en sympathie


This study was designed to examine the relationships between scores of two measures of empathy. One was specifically developed for measuring empathy in patient care situations; the other was developed for the general population. It was hypothesized that the overlap between scores of the two measures would be greater for their constructs that are more relevant to patient care. Study participants were 93 first-year internal medicine residents at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE, specifically developed for administration to health professionals), and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI, developed for the general population) were administered. A statistically significant correlation of a moderate magnitude between the total scores of the JSPE and IRI (r = 0.45, p < 0.01) was found. The research hypothesis was confirmed by observing higher correlations between those scales of the IRI that were relevant to patient care (e.g. empathic concern, perspective taking) and related factors of the JSPE (compassionate care, perspective taking) than other scales of the IRI that seemed less relevant to patient care (e.g. personal distress and fantasy). These findings provide further support for the validity of the JSPE. It is concluded that physician empathy as measured by the JSPE and its underlying factors are distinct personal attributes that have a limited overlap with fantasy and no overlap with personal distress defined as dimensions of an empathy measure that was developed for the general population.


Teach Learn Med. 2008 Jul-Sep;20(3):279-84. doi: 10.1080/10401330802199625.
Changes in medical students’ emotional intelligence: an exploratory study.
Stratton TD1, Saunders JA, Elam CL.
The ability to recognize and adapt to affective states in one’s self and others, emotional intelligence is thought to connote effective, compassionate doctor-patient communication. Unfortunately, medical training has been shown to erode some of the very attributes it purports to instill in students.
The objective is to examine changes in students’ emotional intelligence and empathy across an undergraduate medical curriculum.
During M1 orientation and again following M3 clerkship training, students in the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Class of 2004 completed the Trait Meta-Mood Scale (TMMS) and Davis’ Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI). Baseline changes in specific dimensions were examined for both male and female students.
Reliability of subscales was generally acceptable (alpha >or= .70). Sixty-four students provided data at both time points. Compared to baseline, two of three TMMS dimensions–attention to feelings and mood repair–were significantly (p <or= .05) lower at follow-up. One IRI dimension–empathic concern–was also significantly lower at Time 2, whereas another, Personal Distress, was significantly higher. However, differences generally reflected only small effect sizes. No significant gender interactions were noted.
Despite quite modest effect sizes, findings suggest that students’ abilities to effectively manage affective states may be subject to some minor fluctuation across the undergraduate educational continuum. However, whether these observed declines constitute meaningful, clinically relevant changes remains unclear.


The good news is that training programs to promote empathy and reduce burnout can work! In a study of pediatric oncology nurses, researchers at Columbia found there were significant improvements in perspective taking and empathic concern with a 6 week training program. Similarly, in a study of physicians, mindfulness training was associated with improvements in perspective-taking and decreases in burnout. In general, women tend to score slightly higher than men on the Empathic Concern Scale.


De conclusie van de Duitse studie uit 2011 ‘Empathy Decline and Its Reasons: A Systematic Review of Studies With Medical Students and Residents‘ luidt: The results of the reviewed studies, especially those with longitudinal data, suggest that empathy decline during medical school and residency compromises striving toward professionalism and may threaten health care quality. Theory-based investigations of the factors that contribute to empathy decline among trainees and improvement of the validity of self-assessment methods are necessary for further research.