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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 147-152

Multiple cross-sectional assessments of empathy in medical undergraduate students

1 Department of Psychiatry, Mahavir Institute of Medical Sciences, Vikarabad, Telangana, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ramadugu Shashikumar
Department of Psychiatry, Mahavir Institute of Medical Sciences, Vikarabad - 501 101, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ipj.ipj_63_21

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Introduction: Empathy a cognitive phenomenon, with affective and behavioral components; helps improve clinical competence. It varies depending on physicians' gender and specialty. While some western studies reported significant fall in empathy levels when they progressed from non-clinical to clinical training years, Asian studies including Indian had varied results. We hypothesize that empathy will decrease among medical undergraduates over four years while they progress from non- clinical to clinical rotations and that female medical students and those opting for clinical specialties will have higher empathy than male medical students and those opting for non clinical specialty. Methodology: This study was carried out in a medical college from the year 2012 to 2015. Each year at the beginning of academic session all students were asked to complete Jefferson's -Scale for Physician's Empathy (JSPE student) student version. Over next three years similar assessments were repeated for all batches. The results were tabulated and analyzed using EpiInfo7 software. Results: Over four years 481, 416, 412 and 354 medical students in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year respectively from seven different batches were evaluated. Choice of specialty differed significantly in each year different batches. The empathy score had no relation to gender or choice of specialty. Empathy declines from first year onwards till third year but is not statistically significant. Conclusion: In this large multiple sample cross sectional study, it is evident empathy drops from 1st to 3rd year therefore there is an urgent need to evaluate why empathy falls.

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