Advances in Medical Education and Practice (May 2014)

Empathy levels among first year Malaysian medical students: an observational study

  • Williams B,
  • Sadasivan S,
  • Kadirvelu A,
  • Olaussen A

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2014, no. default
pp. 149 – 156


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Brett Williams,1 Sivalal Sadasivan,2 Amudha Kadirvelu,2 Alexander Olaussen11Department of Community Emergency Health and Paramedic Practice, Melbourne, Australia; 2Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sunway Campus, Selangor, MalaysiaBackground: The literature indicates that medical practitioners experience declining empathy levels in clinical practice. This highlights the need to educate medical students about empathy as an attribute early in the academic curriculum. The objective of this study was to evaluate year one students' self-reported empathy levels following a 2-hour empathy workshop at a large medical school in Malaysia.Methods: Changes in empathy scores were examined using a paired repeated-measures t-test in this prospective before and after study.Results: Analyzing the matched data, there was a statistically significant difference and moderate effect size between mean empathy scores before and 5 weeks after the workshop (112.08±10.67 versus 117.93±13.13, P<0.0001, d=0.48) using the Jefferson Scale Physician Empathy (Student Version).Conclusion: The results of this observational study indicate improved mean self-reported empathy scores following an empathy workshop.Keywords: empathy, medical students, Malaysia