Thomas Jefferson University Research Magazine



We live in a time when empathy seems more important than ever. Two recent studies assess opportunities and challenges for training physicians and nurses to develop stronger skills in empathy.

Jefferson research professor of psychiatry and human behavior Mohammadreza Hojat, PhD, led a nationwide study of empathy in nearly 11,000 osteopathic medical students in the United States. The study used the Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE), a validated measurement tool developed at Jefferson and used in 85 countries and translated into 56 languages. Among its findings were that women tended to score higher on the empathy scale than men, and students of African American and Hispanic/Latinx descent tended to score higher than those of white or Asian descent. In addition, it found that students planning to pursue specialties such as internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry tended to score higher than those focusing on specialties such as anesthesiology, pathology, radiology and surgery.