Paramedic empathy levels : results from seven Australian universities

Williams, Brett, Boyle, Malcolm, Brightwell, Richard, Devenish, Scott, Hartley, Peter, McCall, Michael, McMullen, Paula, Munro, Graham, O'Meara, Peter, & Webb, Vanessa (2012) Paramedic empathy levels : results from seven Australian universities. International Journal of Emergency Services, 1(2), pp. 111-121.

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Purpose Evidence suggests that improved empathy behaviours among healthcare professionals directly impacts on healthcare outcomes. However, the ‘nebulous’ properties of empathic behaviour often means that healthcare profession educators fail to incorporate the explicit teaching and assessment of empathy within the curriculum. This represents a potential mismatch between what is taught by universities and what is actually needed in the healthcare industry. The objective of this study was to assess the extent of empathy in paramedic students across seven Australian universities.

Methods A cross-sectional study using a paper-based questionnaire employing a convenience sample of first, second, and third year undergraduate paramedic students. Student empathy levels were measured using a standardised self-reporting instrument: Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy – Health Profession Students (JSPE-HPS).

Findings A total of 783 students participated in the study of which 57% were females. The overall JSPE-HPS mean score was 106.74 (SD=14.8). Females had greater mean empathy scores than males 108.69 v 103.58 (p=0.042). First year undergraduate paramedic mean empathy levels were the lowest, 106.29 (SD=15.40) with second years the highest at 107.17 (SD=14.90).

Value The overall findings provide a framework for educators to begin constructing guidelines focusing on the need to incorporate, promote and instil empathy into paramedic students in order to better prepare them for future out-of-hospital healthcare practice.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 53829
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Empathy, Undergraduates, Paramedics
DOI: 10.1108/20470891211275902
ISSN: 2047-0894
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > OTHER MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (119900) > Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified (119999)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Emerald Group Publishing
Deposited On: 28 Sep 2012 04:23
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2013 03:49

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