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Revista Habanera de Ciencias Médicas

On-line version ISSN 1729-519X


ATAHUAMAN-ARROYO, Fred et al. Factors associated with the level of empathy towards the patient in medical students, Peru, 2018. Rev haban cienc méd [online]. 2020, vol.19, n.2, e2673.  Epub Apr 22, 2020. ISSN 1729-519X.


Empathy is the adequate understanding towards the patient; it is considered the central axis of the doctor-patient relationship and is a vital component for high-quality health care.


To determine the levels of empathy towards the patient and their association with family functionality, stress, academic performance and sociodemographic and academic factors of medical students.

Material and Methods:

An observational, descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted. The study population included 130 medical students (between 3rd-year and 6-th year) who fulfilled the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The independent variables were family functionality, stress and academic performance. A questionnaire and the Jefferson Scale of Empathy Version S were applied. For the analysis, the Shapiro-Wilk test was used for testing the assumption of normality, the Student t Test and Anova test were used to establish the relationship between variables. Statistical significance of p <0.05 was considered.


The average global empathy was 106.08 ± 18.29 points. Statistically significant differences were found between global empathy and sex (p = 0.03), year of studies (p = 0.00), and family functionality (p = 0.04).


The level of family functioning is associated with empathy. Moreover, it was also found that women were more empathic than men and higher academic years were associated with a lower level of empathy towards the patient.

Keywords : Empathy; doctor-patient relationship; medical empathy; family functionality.

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