Background: Empathy is the backbone of a positive physician-patient relationship. Physician empathy and the patient's awareness of the physician's empathic concern can lead to a more positive clinical outcome.
Material/methods: The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE) was completed by 36 physicians in the Family Medicine residency program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and 90 patients evaluated these physicians by completing the Jefferson Scale of Patient Perceptions of Physician Empathy (JSPPPE), and a survey about physicians' humanistic approaches to patient care.
Results: A statistically significant correlation was found between scores of the JSPE and JSPPPE (r=0.48, p<0.05). Significant correlations were also obtained between scores of the JSPE and patients' assessments that their physician was concerned about their feelings (r=0.55, p<0.01), and that the physician took their wishes into account in making treatment decisions (r=0.48, p<0.05). A negative correlation was observed between scores of the JSPE and patient's perception that their physician was in hurry (r=-0.50, p<0.01).
Conclusions: These findings provide further support for the validity of the JSPE. Implications for the assessments of empathy in the physician-patient relationship as related to clinical outcomes are discussed.