A review of empathy education in nursing

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Abstract:

BRUNERO S, LAMONT S and COATES M. Nursing Inquiry 2010; 17: 65–74

A review of empathy education in nursing

The ability for nurse educators to improve the empathy skill set of nurses has been the subject of several studies with varied outcomes. The aim of this paper is to review the evidence for empathy education programmes in nursing and make recommendations for future nurse education. A review of CINAHL, Medline, Psych Info and Google Scholar was undertaken using the keywords empathy, person centredness, patient centredness, client centredness, education and nursing. The studies included were required to have measured the effectiveness of empathy training in postgraduate and or undergraduate nurses. The included studies incorporated both qualitative and quantitative methods and were published in peer-reviewed journals. Studies were ranked for level of evidence according to The Joanna Briggs Institute criteria. Seventeen studies from the literature review were found that met the inclusion criteria. Of the 17 studies, 11 reported statistically significant improvements in empathy scores versus six studies that did not. Several variables may affect empathy education that need to be accounted in future studies such as; gender, cultural values and clinical speciality experience. Models of education that show most promise are those that use experiential styles of learning. The studies reviewed demonstrated that it is possible to increase nurses’ empathic ability.

Keywords: education; empathy; nursing; person centredness; training

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1800.2009.00482.x

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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