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(Eklund + 2019)

Empathy levels among nursing students: A comparative cross‐sectional study
 01 May 2019



Empathy is a crucial component of the nurse–patient relationship, but knowledge is lacking as to when empathy develops during nursing education. The aim of the present study was to compare empathy levels at different stages of undergraduate nursing education and different master's nursing programmes.


The design was a comparative cross‐sectional study.


A total of 329 participants in Sweden, comprised of nursing students in their second and sixth semesters in an undergraduate nursing programme as well as master's nursing students, rated their own empathy using the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy.


Students in their sixth semester in an undergraduate nursing programme expressed more empathy than did students in their second semester and master's nursing students. Among the five master's programmes, public‐health nursing students expresse

Benefits of  Empathy in healthcare

  • Empathy is a central aspect of the patient–nurse relationship (Derksen et al., 2017; Haslam, 2007; Richardson, Macleod, & Kent, 2012; Ward et al., 2009). 
  • an empathic nurse can be beneficial for the patient (Halpern, 2001);
  •  empathy can strengthen the relationship between nurse and patient, making the treatment work more efficiently (Haslam, 2007).
  •  empathy makes patients more relaxed, motivated and willing to cooperate. Derksen et al. (2017)

Effect of low Empathy

  •  leaves patents frustrated and unwilling to return to the healthcare facility.

  •  experiential learning included role play and case‐scenario‐based experiential work