Journal Article
Multicenter Study
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Empathy in undergraduate medical students: a multi-center cross-sectional study in China.

BMC Psychiatry 2024 June 5
BACKGROUND: Fostering empathy has been continuously emphasized in the global medical education. Empathy is crucial to enhance patient-physician relationships, and is associated with medical students' academic and clinical performance. However, empathy level of medical students in China and related influencing factors are not clear.

METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study among medical students in 11 universities. We used the Jefferson Scale of Empathy Student-version of Chinese version to measure empathy level of medical students. Factors associated with empathy were identified by the univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses. Based on the variables identified above, the nomogram was established to predict high empathy probability of medical students. Receiver operating characteristic curve, calibration plot and decision curve analysis were used to evaluate the discrimination, calibration and educational utility of the model.

RESULTS: We received 10,901 samples, but a total of 10,576 samples could be used for further analysis (effective response rate of 97.02%). The mean empathy score of undergraduate medical students was 67.38 (standard deviation = 9.39). Six variables including gender, university category, only child or not, self-perception doctor-patient relationship in hospitals, interest of medicine, Kolb learning style showed statistical significance with empathy of medical students (P < 0.05). Then, the nomogram was established based on six variables. The validation suggested the nomogram model was well calibrated and had good utility in education, as well as area under the curve of model prediction was 0.65.

CONCLUSIONS: We identify factors influencing empathy of undergraduate medical students. Moreover, increasing manifest and hidden curriculums on cultivating empathy of medical students may be needed among medical universities or schools in China.

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