Background: Researchers have described empathy as a cognitive attribute, which means it predominantly involves understanding another person’s concerns. It has also been described as an affective or emotional characteristic, which implies that it primarily involves feeling another person’s pain and suffering. Because empathic patient interactions by dentists are associated with improved patient outcomes, self-reported declines in empathy during dental student training are a concern.
Aim: To measure empathy levels among 3rd year, 4th year undergraduate students and interns studying in dental colleges of Bangalore city and to investigate the differences in empathy scores based on gender and year of dental training.
Methodology: A cross sectional descriptive research was undertaken among 800 dental students (3rd year, final year and interns) to measure the empathy levels using Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy-Health Professionals Version (JSPE-HP) questionnaire containing 20 items answered on a 5-point Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, neutral , disagree and strongly agree). The data was analyzed using SPSS 21.
Results: Out of 800(100%) dental students, 300 (37.5%) were males and 500 (62.5%) were females with the mean age of males and females 22.93 ± 1.72 and 21.87 ± 1.28 respectively. The mean empathy scores with respect to age was more for 21-22 yrs whereas based on gender, empathy scores were more for males and there was not much difference found with the empathy scores with respect to fourth year students and interns.
Conclusion: This cross-sectional study explored differences in empathy among dental student groups in the context of existing evidence that empathy declines as students progress through dental course.