Measurement of empathy levels in undergraduate paramedic students
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Paramedics rely on establishing a health provider-patient relationship with patients that promotes two-way communication, patient satisfaction, and facilitates appropriate patient assessment and treatment. Paramedics also must have an ability to empathize with patients and their family members in order to develop a successful health provider-patient relationship. The objective of this study was to assess paramedics’ empathy and attitudes toward patients with specific conditions. This was a cross-sectional study using a convenience sample of first-, second-, and third-year, Australian undergraduate paramedic students. Student empathy levels were assessed using two standardized self-reporting instruments: the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE) Health Professional (HP) version and the Medical Condition Regard Scale (MCRS). A total of 94 paramedic students participated in the study. The JSPE demonstrated that male paramedic students had higher mean empathy scores than did female paramedic students (113.25 and 107.5, respectively; P = .042). The JSPE empathy level scores were lowest among first-year paramedic students (mean = 107.53); age was not found to be a significant variable on empathy scores. The Medical Condition Regard Scale revealed lowest scores in compassion towards substance abuse (mean = 46.42). The results of this study provide the discipline of paramedic health care with useful data, and provide students, academics, and other educators with important information regarding the improvement of the health provider-patient relationship and paramedic education curriculum development.
Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified