Objective: To assess the reliability and construct validity of a French version of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Students.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed among undergraduate medical students in Tunisia. A total of 833 students completed a French version of the JSE-S using convenience sampling. To identify the internal consistency aspect of the reliability, Cronbach's alpha coefficient was computed. Moreover, to assess the construct validity, the sample was randomly divided into two groups. Data from the first group (n=415) were subjected to exploratory factor analysis (EFA), with principal axing factoring (PAF) and oblimin rotation, to re-examine the underlying factor structure of the scale. Data from the second group (n=419) were used for confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to confirm its latent variable structure. Some goodness-of-fit indices were used to assess the hypothesized model. Gender groups were compared using a t-test to check the known-group validity.
Results: Reliability analysis reported an acceptable level of internal consistency, with an overall Cronbach's alpha of 0.78 (95% CI [0.75,0.80]). EFA identified a two-factor structure, accounting for 27.4% of the total variance. The two-factor model produced good fit indices when item correlated errors were considered (χ2/df = 1.95, GFI = 0.92, CFI = 0.90, PCFI = 0.79, PGFI = 0.73 and RMSEA = 0.04). Female students had a statistically significant higher empathy scores than male students (t (830) = - 4.16, p < .001).
Conclusions: The findings support the construct validity and reliability of a French version of the JSE for medical students. This instrument appears to be useful for investigating empathy among French-speaking populations.
Keywords: confirmatory factor analysis (cfa); exploratory factor analysis (efa); jefferson scale of empathy; medical student; reliability.