The Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) is a broadly used instrument developed to measure empathy in the context of health professions education and patient care. Evidence in support of psychometrics of the JSE has been reported in health professions students and practitioners with the exception of osteopathic medical students. This study was designed to examine measurement properties, underlying components, and latent variable structure of the JSE in a nationwide sample of first-year matriculants at U.S. colleges of osteopathic medicine, and to develop a national norm table for the assessment of JSE scores. A web-based survey was administered at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year which included the JSE, a scale to detect "good impression" responses, and demographic/background information. Usable surveys were received from 6009 students enrolled in 41 college campuses (median response rate = 92%). The JSE mean score and standard deviation for the sample were 116.54 and 10.85, respectively. Item-total score correlations were positive and statistically significant (p < 0.01), and Cronbach α = 0.82. Significant gender differences were observed on the JSE scores in favor of women. Also, significant differences were found on item scores between top and bottom third scorers on the JSE. Three factors of Perspective Taking, Compassionate Care, and Walking in Patient's Shoes emerged in an exploratory factor analysis by using half of the sample. Results of confirmatory factor analysis with another half of the sample confirmed the 3-factor model. We also developed a national norm table which is the first to assess students' JSE scores against national data.
Recommended CitationHojat, Mohammadreza; DeSantis, Jennifer; Shannon, Stephen C.; Mortensen, Luke H.; Speicher, Mark R.; Bragan, Lynn; LaNoue, Marianna; and Calabrese, Leonard H., "The Jefferson Scale of Empathy: a nationwide study of measurement properties, underlying components, latent variable structure, and national norms in medical students." (2018). College of Population Health Faculty Papers. Paper 92.
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