An Assessment of Medical School Stressors on Preclinical Students' Levels of Clinical Empathy

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19 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines the impact of medical school-specific stressors on potential changes in medical students' levels of clinical empathy. A total of 352 students at a U. S. medical school completed questionnaires at the beginning and the end of the 2007-2008 academic year. Subjects were found to decrease significantly in levels of empathy, although these changes were minimal. The negative impact of medical school-specific stressors was found to not significantly affect students' changes in clinical empathy, yet correlation analyses showed that students high in clinical empathy were more likely to report that significant medical school stressors had more negative impact on their lives. Whereas medical school stress may not be a direct cause of the decline in empathy, students may be adapting to their environment by shedding empathy in order to become less vulnerable to the negative impact of the stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-221
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Psychology
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Clinical empathy
  • Medical school
  • Medical school stressors
  • Negative impact of stress
  • Personality traits
  • Preclinical medical education
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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