Differences between GP perception of delivered empathy and patient-perceived empathy: a cross-sectional study in primary care
SourceBritish Journal of General Practice, 68, 674, (2018), pp. e621-e626
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
British Journal of General Practice
SubjectRadboudumc 0: Other Research RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
BACKGROUND: Empathy has positive effects on a range of healthcare outcomes. It is therefore an important skill for a GP. However, the correlation between GP perception of delivered empathy and patient perception of GP empathic communication during consultations is still unclear. AIM: To investigate the correlation between GP perception of delivered empathy and patient-perceived empathy. DESIGN AND SETTING: Cross-sectional study in primary care in the Netherlands, between December 2016 and February 2017. METHOD: GPs and their patients were asked to fill in an empathy questionnaire directly after a consultation. Patient perception of received empathy during the consultation was measured through the Dutch version of the Consultation and Relational Empathy (CARE) questionnaire. GP perception of delivered empathy during the consultation was measured with an adapted version of the CARE questionnaire. RESULTS: The authors obtained questionnaires from 147 consultations by 34 different GPs in 16 primary care practices. A total of 143 consultations were eligible for inclusion in the analysis. Mean patient-perceived empathy score was significantly higher than mean GPs' empathy score (42.1, range 20.0 to 50.0 and 31.6, range 24.0 to 41.0, respectively, P<0.0001). Furthermore, a low correlation (r = 0.06) was found between GP empathy score and patient-perceived empathy score. CONCLUSION: GPs rate the delivered empathy during consultations consistently and significantly lower than their patients experience empathy during consultations. Moreover, GPs' impressions of the empathy delivered during the consultation do not predict the actual amount of empathy perceived by their patients. Patients experience a great deal of empathy during their clinical encounter. GPs' self-reports on empathy delivered gives an inaccurate reflection, and underestimates patient-perceived empathy.
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