Aim: To develop a brief scale for measuring patient's perceptions of their physician's empathic engagement and to provide preliminary evidence in support of aspects of the scale's psychometrics.
Method: Study comprised 225 patients, out of 436 patients (52% response rate) seen by 166 residents in the internal medicine residency program at the Jefferson Hospital Ambulatory Clinic as part of their ambulatory training at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. A 5-item questionnaire entitled the Jefferson Scale of Patient's Perceptions of Physician Empathy was developed and administered to the study participants. Its factor structure, item-total score correlations, and correlations with several relevant criterion measures were examined.
Results: Factor analysis indicated that the scale was measuring a single factor of emphatic engagement. Item scores and total scores of the Jefferson Scale of Patient's Perceptions of Physician Empathy yielded significant correlations with the American Board of Internal Medicine patient ratings form and with selected items from other relevant instruments measuring physicians' humanistic behavior and the appraisal of physicians' performance.
Conclusions: A brief scale for assessing physician empathy from the patients' perspective showed good psychometric characteristics and can be used for the assessment of patient outcomes.