Singapore Institute of Technology
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Finding Echoes: An Exploration of Empathy Among Physiotherapists and Physiotherapy Students in Singapore

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-25, 06:11 authored by Elsie Kim Hiok Lim, Gordon Jian Ting Loh, Ren Yong Ong, Rachel Ruizhen Tan, Clement Chee Kin YanClement Chee Kin Yan, Shilin, Katherin HuangShilin, Katherin Huang, Melissa Yi Ching Chan, Tsz Ling Meredith YeungTsz Ling Meredith Yeung


Empathy is an essential antecedent in motivating healthcare professionals to treat and care for their patients with compassion – few studies had explored empathy on healthcare workers. Currently, no data reported empathy amongst physiotherapists and physiotherapy students in Singapore.


This study aims to: 1) measure and explore within- and between-group differences in empathy scores amongst physiotherapists and physiotherapy students in Singapore, and 2) compare the results with similar studies locally and overseas.


This cross-sectional survey recruited 187 participants (37 physiotherapists and 150 physiotherapy students) via convenience sampling. Participants completed the Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) Health Professions (JSE-HP) and the JSEHealth Professions Students (JSE-HPS), correspondingly. The 20-item JSE-HP and JSE-HPS are validated self-reported questionnaires that measure clinical empathy using a 7-point Likert scale. Summed scores range from 20 to 140, with higher scores suggesting a higher level of empathy. Statistical analysis included descriptive statistics, independent-sample t-tests and one-way analyses of variance.


The mean score of JSE-HP and JSE-HPS was 110.89±11.37 and 112.43±10.73, respectively. No statistically significant differences found between gender, physiotherapists and physiotherapy students, and years of study. However, physiotherapists scored significantly higher [5.08±1.24 (95% CI 4.67–5.49) vs 4.01±1.36 (95% CI 3.79–4.23), p < .001 ] in the JSE components ‘Walking in Patient’s Shoes’.


Physiotherapists and physiotherapy students in Singapore have similar empathy scores to their counterparts locally and internationally. No statistically significant differences in empathy scores were found. However, physiotherapy students were less able to understand patients’ perspectives. This warrants further exploration in developing this vital attribute amongst students.


Journal/Conference/Book title

Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare

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Meredith Yeung;

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