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An assessment of pharmacy students’ empathy levels in Malaysia

Syed Shahzad Hasan , Muneer Gohar Babar , Kheng Kai Chan , Syed Imran Ahmed , Shahid Mitha


This study examined the validity and reliability of the student version of Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Health Profession (JSE-HPS) in a sample of pharmacy students and to subsequently use JSE-HPS to assess empathy levels in first to fourth (final) year pharmacy students in public and private universities in Malaysia. The JSE-HPS was administered to 719 first to fourth (final) year pharmacy students; 313 were enrolled at a public university and 406 at a private university in Malaysia. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were performed using SPSS® version 18. The JSE-HPS demonstrated good internal consistency (Cronbach’s  = 0.70). A three-factor solution emerged and included ‘perspective taking’, ‘compassionate care’ and ‘standing in patient’s shoes’ factors, accounting for 16.4%, 16%, and 7.6% of the variance, respectively. The total mean empathy score was 83.02±8.23, the actual score ranged between 46.05 and 113.25. Overall, males and students of Malay origin were more empathic than females and students of other ethnic origins. Junior students (year one and two) were more empathic than senior students (year three and four), and public university students had significantly higher mean empathy score compared to those enrolled at a private university (83.89 versus 82.34, p=0.012). This study confirms the construct validity and internal consistency of the JSE-HPS for measuring empathy in pharmacy students. Empathy scores among students vary depending on type of university and year of study.

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