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The relationship between empathy and burnout – lessons for paramedics: a scoping review
Authors Williams B, Lau R, Thornton E, Olney LS
Received 7 July 2017
Conclusion: Although there seems to be a real relationship between empathy and burnout in physicians and nurses, the strength of the relationship differs to some extent depending on the samples and settings. Due to similarities between health professions, the relationship between empathy and burnout may also be relevant to the paramedic profession. Future paramedic research should focus on longitudinal studies to determine the factors that might influence empathy and burnout levels to provide a better understanding of these two key factors. "
  • Low empathy leading to higher burnout
  • Higher burnout leading to lower empathy
  • Empathy as a protective factor
    Six articles showed that empathy could be a protective factor against burnout



"Traumatology, Mar 02 , 2017, 

"Police officers who work with victims of rape and sexual assault are exposed to severely traumatic material. This study aimed to investigate whether these specialist officers had developed compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, and burnout, and whether these variables were associated with trait and situational empathy, an important factor in retaining victim involvement within the prosecution process. ..

Higher empathy might protect against burnout. Longitudinal research is needed to better understand the relationships between empathy, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, and burnout. "


Empathy and compassion fatigue in specialist police officers working with victims of rape and sexual assault: Assessment and brief training intervention
David Turgoose
D.Clin.Psy thesis (Volume 1), 2015
UCL Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
  • "Part 1, the literature review, examined predictors of compassion fatigue in mental health professionals...
  • Part 2, the empirical paper, investigated empathy, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress and burnout in police officers who work with victims of rape.  ...
  • Part 3, the critical appraisal, discusses working with the police, difficulties in defining some of the key constructs investigated in the study, and the potential wider implications of conducting research in this area."...


Empathy is a protective factor of burnout in physicians: new neuro-phenomenological hypotheses regarding empathy and sympathy in care relationship
Berangere THIRIOUXFrançois BIRAULT  and Nematollah JAAFARI
"the nature of the relation between burnout and empathy remains not yet understood, as reflected in the variety of theoretical and contradictory hypotheses attempting to causally relate these two phenomena. 

Firstly, we here question the epistemological problem concerning the modality of the burnout-empathy link. 

Secondly, we hypothesize that considering the multidimensional features of both burnout and empathy, on one hand, and on the other hand, the distinction between empathy and sympathy enables to overcome these contradictions and, consequently, gives a better understanding of the relationship between burnout and empathy in physicians. 

Thirdly, we propose that clarifying the link between burnout, empathy and sympathy would enable developing specific training in medical students and continuous professional formation in senior physicians and would potentially contribute to the prevention of burnout in medical care."
THIRIOUX B, BIRAULT F and JAAFARI N (2016). Empathy is a protective factor of burnout in physicians: new neuro-phenomenological hypotheses regarding empathy and sympathy in care relationship. Front. Psychol. 7:763. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00763


"Findings suggest that components of empathy may prevent or reduce burnout and STS while increasing compassion satisfaction, and that empathy should be incorporated into training and education throughout the course of a social worker’s career."  (WAGAMAN + 2014)



UC Berkeley Study: Empathy as an antidote for job burnout
By Suzanne Bohan
"Instead of looking only at external factors causing burnout, such as heavy workloads, inadequate resources and difficult work relationships, they're focusing how workers can develop empathy to spark and sustain enthusiasm for their work. In doing so, they increase their effectiveness, even in daunting work conditions."


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