The direct and indirect effects of clinical empathy on well-being among pre-medical students: a structural equation model approach.

Title

The direct and indirect effects of clinical empathy on well-being among pre-medical students: a structural equation model approach.

Creator

MacArthur KR; Stacey CL; Harvey S; Markle J

Publisher

Bmc Medical Education

Date

2021
2021-08-02

Description

Background: Empathy is a well-established facet of clinical competency that research suggests is associated with enhanced medical student well-being. Since little is known about empathy and well-being before students enter medical school-during pre-medical education-the main goal of this study is to test a conceptual model of how clinical empathy is related to two indicators of well-being, depression, and burnout among pre-medical students. The theoretical model hypothesizes that three dimensions of clinical empathy-Perspective-Taking, Compassionate Care, and Standing in Patients' Shoes- will be directly and negatively related to depression, as well as indirectly through its inverse relationship with three facets of burnout, Emotional Exhaustion, Poor Academic Efficacy, and Cynicism.; Methods: Using survey data from a sample of 132 pre-medical students at an American Midwestern university, this study employs structural equation modeling (SEM) to test the theoretical model of the relationships between empathy, burnout, and depression among pre-medical students. We identify the direct effects of the three dimensions of the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSE-S) on depression (CES-D), as well as the indirect effects of clinical empathy on depression through the three dimensions of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI-S).; Results: SEM analyses show that while none of the three dimensions of the JSE-S are directly related to depression, clinical empathy does significantly affect depression indirectly through burnout. Specifically, as predicted, we find that Perspective-Taking decreases Emotional Exhaustion, but, contrary to expectations, Compassionate Care increases it. And, the positive relationship between Compassionate Care and Emotional Exhaustion is particularly strong. In turn, Perspective-Taking and Compassionate Care are associated with depression in opposite directions and to different degrees.; Conclusions: Findings suggest that clinical empathy as measured by the JSE-S produces both positive and negative effects on personal well-being. We conclude that further conceptual clarity of clinical empathy is needed to better discern how the different dimensions impact different indicators of well-being. Given that pre-medical education is a crucial time for emotional socialization, the challenge for medical education will be fostering the positive, cognitive aspects of clinical empathy while simultaneously mitigating the adverse effects of affective empathy on medical student well-being. (© 2021. The Author(s).)

Subject

Burnout; Depression; Empathy; Medical socialization; Pre-medical education

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Format

journalArticle

Search for Full-text

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Pages

412

Issue

1

Volume

21

ISSN

1472-6920

NEOMED Department

NEOMED Student Publications

Update Year & Number

August 2021 List

Citation

MacArthur KR; Stacey CL; Harvey S; Markle J, “The direct and indirect effects of clinical empathy on well-being among pre-medical students: a structural equation model approach.,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed June 21, 2024, https://neomed.omeka.net/items/show/11762.