Nurses’ Empathy in Different Wards: A Cross Sectional Study

Fatemeh Ghaedi, Elaheh Ashouri, Mozhgan Soheili, Mohsen Sahragerd


Background: Empathy is an important component of the nurse‑client relationship and nursing care. The current study aimed to compare nurses’ level of empathy with patients in critical care units, psychiatric, and emergency wards.

Materials and Methods: The present cross‑sectional study was conducted on 112 nurses selected by convenience sampling in three educational hospitals affiliated with Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran from June to September 2017. Data collection tool was a two‑part questionnaire consisting of sociodemographic data (such as age, gender, and work experience) and Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) containing 20 items, scored according to Likert scale from totally agree (7 points) to totally disagree (1 point). In total, the maximum score was 140 and the minimum score was 20. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 16 as well as descriptive and analytical statistical tests (multiple regression).

Results: The mean (SD) empathy score of nurses working in critical care units, emergency, and psychiatric wards was 87.51 (6.65), 87.59 (4.90), and 90.71 (7.12), respectively. Regarding the regression models, it was observed that only the work experience was a significant predictor for empathy (β = 0.19, p = 0.04). This model predicted 3.50% of variances in the nurses’ empathy.

Conclusions: Nurses’ level of empathy in this study was above average with equal scores in different wards. Therefore, increasing the nurses’ level of empathy is essential in interventional studies.


Empathy, Iran, nurses, patients

Full Text:



Amarneh B. Social support behaviors and work stressors among nurses: A comparative study between teaching and non teaching hospitals. Behav Sci 2017;7:pii: E5.

Kourkouta L, Papathanasiou IV. Communication in nursing practice. Mater Socio med 2014;26:65 7.

Dinç L, Gastmans C. Trust in nurse patient relationships: A literature review. Nurs Ethics 2013;20:501 16.

Rchaidia L, Dierckx de Casterlé B, De Blaeser L, Gastmans C. Cancer patients’ perceptions of the good nurse: A literature review. Nurs Ethics 2009;16:528 42.

Gosselin E, Bourgault P, Lavoie S. Association between job strain, mental health and empathy among intensive care nurses. Nurs Crit Care 2016;21:137 45.

Zeighami R, Rafiie F. Concept analysis of empathy in nursing. J Qual Res Health Sci 2012;1:27 33.

Walocha E, Tomaszewska IM, Mizia E. Empathy level differences between Polish surgeons and physicians. Folia Medica Cracoviensia 2013;53:47 54.

Dean S, Williams C, Balnaves M. Living dolls and nurses without empathy. J Adv Nurs 2017;73:757 9.

Yuguero O, Ramon Marsal J, Esquerda M, Vivanco L, Soler González J. Association between low empathy and high burnout among primary care physicians and nurses in Lleida, Spain. Eur J Gen Pract 2017;23:4 10.

Walocha E, Tomaszewski KA, Wilczek Rużyczka E, Walocha J. Empathy and burnout among physicians of different specialties. Folia Med Cracov 2013;53:35 42.

Yuguero O, Forné C, Esquerda M, Pifarré J, Abadías MJ, Viñas J. Empathy and burnout of emergency professionals of a health region: A cross sectional study. Medicine 2017;96:e8030.

Alkan A. The effects of nurses’ empathy skills on attitudes towards patients with cancer. J Clin Exp Invest 2016;8:70 4.

Duarte J, Pinto Gouveia J. Empathy and feelings of guilt experienced by nurses: A cross sectional study of their role in burnout and compassion fatigue symptoms. Appl Nurs Res 2017;35:42 7.

Jahanshahi Z, Sarabi A, Borhani F, Nasiri M, Anboohi S. The correlation between the clinical competency and empathy of nurses: Case study, Intensive Care Units of the educational hospitals of Kerman Medical Sciences University, Iran. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:694 701.

Tsai SL, Chai S, Wang HH. Patient perceived empathy from nurses in Taiwan acute care settings. Open J Nurs 2013;3:532.

Jafari MM, M. Nurses’ empathy with depressed patients in Shahid Modarres Psychiatric Hospital in Isfahan. The 12th Annual Research Congress of medical Students in East of the country, Gonabad, Student Research Committee of Gonabad University of Medical Sciences; 2017. Available from: https://www.civilica. com/Paper-MSEMSMED12-MSEMSMED12_155.

Bourgault P, Lavoie S, Paul Savoie E, Grégoire M, Michaud C, Gosselin E, et al. Relationship between empathy and well being among emergency nurses. J Emerg Nurs 2015;41:323 8.

Stayt LC. Nurses’ experiences of caring for families with relatives in intensive care units. J Adv Nurs 2007;57:623 30.

Moghaddasian S, Dizaji SL, Mahmoudi M. Nurses empathy and family needs in the intensive care units. J Caring Sci 2013;2:197 201.

Şentürk S, Uçak A. Evaluation of empathic tendency levels of the intensive care unit nurses in terms of various variables. Turk

J Health Sci Life 2018;1:7 13.

Coşkun F, Durna Z, Akin S, Mendi B. Assessment of levels of empathic skills and autonomy of nurses working in medical and surgical units. Turkiye Klinikleri J Nurs Sci 2016;8:122 30.

Ak M, Cinar O, Sutcigil L, Congologlu ED, Haciomeroglu B, Canbaz H, et al. Communication skills training for emergency nurses. Int J Med Sci 2011;8:397.

Parvan K, Ebrahimi H, Zamanzadeh V, Seyedrasooly A, Dadkhah D, Jabarzadeh F. Empathy from the nurses’ viewpoint in teaching hospitals of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Iran. J Caring Sci 2014;3:29 36.

Hojat M. Empathy in Health Professions Education and Patient Care. Springer; 2016.

Hashemipour M, Karami MA. Validity and reliability of the Persian version of JSPE HP questionnaire (Jefferson scale of physician empathy health professionals version). J Kerman Univ Med Sci 2012;19:201 11.

Richardson C, Percy M, Hughes J. Nursing therapeutics: Teaching student nurses care, compassion and empathy. Nurse Educ Today 2015;35:e1 5.

Scott H. Empathy in Healthcare Settings: Goldsmiths. University of London; 2011.

Vaghee S, Lotfabadi MK, Vaghei N, Zarvandi R. The effect of psychology clerkship on empathy toward mental disorders in nursing students. J Med Educ Dev 2017;12:40 50.

Stayt LC. Death, empathy and self preservation: The emotional labour of caring for families of the critically ill in adult intensive care. J Clin Nurs 2009;18:1267 75.

Shalchi B. Big five model in explanation of associations between personality and clinical empathy among nurses. Razi J Med Sci 2018;25:37 47.

Ayadi N, Dargahi S, Ghamari Givi H, Abbasi M. The impact of job stress on subjective well being, marital stress and empathy of nurses. Iran J Med Ethics Hist Med 2016;9:67 79.

Bodenheimer T, Sinsky C. From triple to quadruple aim: Care of the patient requires care of the provider. Ann Fam Med 2014;12:573 6.

Ahanchian M, Meshkinyazd A, Soudmand P. Nursing burnout in psychiatric departments. J Fundamentals Mental Health 2016;17:260 4.

Kuo JC, Cheng JF, Chen YL, Livneh H, Tsai TY. An exploration of empathy and correlates among Taiwanese nurses. Jpn J Nurs Sci 2012;9:169 76.

Tsai HH, Tsai YF, Huang HL. Nursing home nurses’ experiences of resident transfers to the emergency department: No empathy for our work environment difficulties. J Clin Nurs 2016;25:610 8.

Colville G. Paediatric intensive care nurses report higher empathy but also higher burnout than other health professionals. Evid Based Nurs 2018;21:25.

Taleghani F, Ashouri E, Saburi M. Empathy, burnout, demographic variables and their relationships in oncology nurses. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 2017;22:41 5.

Gleichgerrcht E, Decety J. Empathy in clinical practice: How individual dispositions, gender, and experience moderate empathic concern, burnout, and emotional distress in physicians. PloS One 2013;8:e61526.

Melchers MC, Li M, Haas BW, Reuter M, Bischoff L, Montag C. Similar personality patterns are associated with empathy in four different countries. Front Psychol 2016;7:290.

Elayyan M, Rankin J, Chaarani M. Factors affecting empathetic patient care behaviour among medical doctors and nurses: An integrative literature review. East Mediterr Health J 2018;24:311 8.


  • There are currently no refbacks.