Physicians’ emphaty for patients with chronic disease and patient perceptions


  • K. Tsatsalidi
  • L. Bantis
  • E. Bakas
  • I. Gkiozos
  • k. Sirigos
  • A. Barbouni


Background: Empathy is a cognitive attribute that involves an ability to understand the patient's pain, suffering and perspective combined with a capability to communicate this understanding and an intention to help. The purpose of this study was to reveal whether clinicians show empathy to patients with chronic diseases. Moreover, the study aimed at disclosing patients’ beliefs about their doctor’s empathy. Methods: The study took place in an oncology clinic and a rehabilitation clinic in two general hospitals in Athens, Greece, after the approval of their bioethics committee. 143 patients and 32 doctors participated by filling in a questionnaire (Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy). The statistical analysis was completed with SPSS and MATLAB programmes. Findings: Results show high scores in empathy in these clinics and this fact is evidenced by answers of both patients and clinicians in the questionnaires. There is a statistically interesting result about patients’ smoking. After the diagnosis, patients tend to follow their physician’s advice and quit smoking, although this does not happen immediately after they are informed about their condition. Moreover, empathy in clinicians seems to depend on the amount of coffee they consume in their everyday life. Discussion: The results of this study are very important because they create new perspectives about empathy. It is proved that empathy is related to clinicians’ burn-out. Furthermore, the study demonstrates that patients with chronic diseases, who believe that their doctor understands their situation, have better chances to comply with the regulations needed for their treatment.





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