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Assessing Empathic Attitudes in Medical Students: The Re-Validation of the Jefferson Scale of Empathystudent Version Report


Introduction. Self-reported scales, such as the Jefferson Scale of Empathy - Student version (JSE-S), had been recognised to measure the empathic disposition rather than behavioural expression. This study aimed to re-validate the JSE-S and its factor structure prior further research on empathy in medical students.

Methods. A convenience sampling method was employed in two consecutive academic years, in 2012/13 and 2013/14, at the Faculty of Medicine in Ljubljana, Slovenia; first and final year students participated voluntarily. The JSE-S examined empathy levels. The principal component analysis was performed with Oblimin rotation and Kaisers’ criteria. Factors with eigenvalues ≥ 1.25 were retained and items loading ≥ |0.40| were required for the interpretation of the factor structure.

Results. The total study sample size was 845 students, (580 (68.6%)) of them women; 327 (72.2%) were in the first (19.2 ± 1.9 years old) and 253 (61.7%) in the sixth (24.9 ± 1.1 years old) year of medical school. Females achieved higher JSE-S scores in all groups. The three-factor JSE-S was confirmed, but only seven items were concordant in all groups. A higher proportion of explained variation for Perspective Taking and Standing in the Patient`s Shoes, and better internal consistency, was found in a reduced-item scale (16-18 items). When performing factor analysis of a seven-item scale, the percentages of explained variance increased with two factors extracted.

Conclusions. Only the cognitive dimension of JSE-S gave results as expected, therefore proper terminology, i.e. the object of assessment, must be used in further administration of JSE-S and empathy-related research in medical students.

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Fachgebiete der Zeitschrift:
Medizin, Klinische Medizin, Hygiene- und Umweltmedizin