A comparison of four empathy instruments in simulated patient-medical student interactions

J Med Educ. 1985 Jul;60(7):545-51. doi: 10.1097/00001888-198507000-00006.


Prior investigations of empathy in medicine have used several available instruments for assessment, including a scale developed by Hornblow, Hogan's empathy scale, the Carkhuff-Truax empathic understanding scale, and the Barrett-Lennard relationship inventory. The purpose of the study reported in this article was to investigate the intercorrelations of the scores on these four instruments when used in a medical student-simulated patient interaction. The results showed that measures of empathy based on observed behavior of the students were highly intercorrelated but that empathy self-assessed by the students themselves as having that trait did not correlate significantly with any of the behavior-based measures. No significant effect on these findings was attributable to the timing of the instrument administration, to the students' interpersonal skills training or experience in taking histories and performing physical examinations, or to the sex of the students and the observers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Sex Factors
  • Students, Medical / psychology*