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von Knorring, Johanna
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von Knorring, J., Semb, O., Martin, F. & Lehti, A. (2019). "It is through body language and looks, but it is also a feeling"-a qualitative study on medical interns' experience of empathy. BMC Medical Education, 19, Article ID 333.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"It is through body language and looks, but it is also a feeling"-a qualitative study on medical interns' experience of empathy
2019 (English)In: BMC Medical Education, ISSN 1472-6920, E-ISSN 1472-6920, Vol. 19, article id 333Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Empathy has long been recognized as a fundamental part of the professionalism of doctors and is considered to be both necessary and beneficial to doctor-patient relationships, although empathy is notoriously difficult to define and measure. Previous research on empathy has mostly consisted of quantitative studies measuring and evaluating empathy levels in students or medical residents. The aim of our qualitative study was to explore the lived experience of empathy among medical interns in Sweden.

Method: We interviewed 16 medical interns, using semi-structured interviews. Content analysis was used to analyse the interviews.

Results: The analysis led to the emergence of a main theme of empathy as being multifaceted and conflictual, consisting of descriptions (subthemes) of “being” and “doing”; of being uncontrollable and contextual; biased and situated and essential and conflictual. Since the components of empathy were also found to be interwoven, to provide a more holistic presentation of the results, we applied a socio-ecological model to the results inspired by Bronfenbrenner.

Conclusions: We concluded that empathy is situated and contextual. By using the socioecological model empathy can be described as a systemic interaction between doctor and patient. Based on this we propose a more holistic approach to empathy in medical education to better prepare students for clinical practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central, 2019
Empathy, Medical education, Professionalism
National Category
Other Clinical Medicine
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-164626 (URN)10.1186/s12909-019-1770-0 (DOI)000485283800003 ()31484525 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85071737175 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-11-12 Created: 2019-11-12 Last updated: 2019-11-12Bibliographically approved

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