Empathy levels in undergraduate paramedic students: A three-year longitudinal study

Brett Williams, Malcolm Boyle, Stuart Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Empathetic behaviour is regarded as a positive trait amongst healthcare professionals and has been attributed to increased patient compliance, greater patient satisfaction, and greater diagnostic accuracy and reduced rates of clinical errors. In particular, paramedic students have typically displayed lower rates of empathy when compared to their healthcare counterparts. The objective of this study is to assess both the level of empathy and changes in empathy in undergraduate paramedic students over a 3-year period at a single tertiary institution. A cross sectional study employing a convenience sample of first, second and third year undergraduate paramedic students at Monash University. Student empathy scores where measured with the Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Health Profession Student version (JSE-HPS); a validated, self-reporting questionnaire. 552 students were enrolled in the study. The mean overall JSE-HPS score for the cohort was 108.60 (SD = 12.50). Female students displayed significantly higher empathy scores of 110.27 (SD = 11.62) compared to males at 105.36 (SD = 13.57). There was also a significant difference (p = 0.03) noted between the 2008 JSE-HPS score 106.32 (SD = 14.02), when compared to the 2009 cohort, 110.18 (SD = 12.91). Results from this study suggest that paramedic students display lower empathy than those reported by fellow healthcare students within the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-90
Number of pages5
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Empathy
  • Paramedics
  • Undergraduates

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