Measuring empathic behaviour among undergraduate dietetics students

Shi Hui Ng, Muneer Gohar Babar, Syed Imran Ahmed, Syed Shahzad Hasan, Wai Yew Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Empathic behaviour has a direct link to the positive clinical outcomes. Health professionals, which include dietitians, are increasingly expected to demonstrate the impact of their care on patient outcomes. To date, there is limited research exploring the empathic behaviour of dietetics students. Methods: This cross-sectional study evaluated the psychometric properties of Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Healthcare Provider Student (JSE-HPS) and empathic behaviour of dietetics students. Results: Undergraduate dietetics students from one private and two public universities in Malaysia participated (n = 455). Item and scale psychometric properties were examined using principal component analysis and differences in mean empathy scores for students were assessed across years of study and types of universities. A 3-factor solution emerged in the results, accounting for 26.76%, 10.75% and 6.3% of the variance. The JSE-HPS demonstrated good internal consistency (α = 0.83). Despite students enroled at public universities scoring higher mean empathy scores than students enroled at the private university, the difference was not significant. The only significant difference was between the empathy level of first and third year students (p = 0.033). Conclusion: As empathy underpins patient-centred management in the nutrition care process, it should be well integrated into curriculum delivery so that appropriate levels of empathy can be developed to prepare work-ready healthcare professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number2
Early online date28 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

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