How Do Distress and Well-Being Relate to Medical Student Empathy? A Multicenter Study

Published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the following study aimed to determine whether lower levels of empathy among a sample of medical students in the United States are associated with personal and professional distress and to explore whether a high degree of personal well-being is associated with higher levels of empathy. Authors found that medical student empathy scores were higher than normative samples of similarly aged individuals and were similar to other medical student samples. Domains of burnout inversely correlated with empathy. In contrast, students’ sense of personal accomplishment demonstrated a positive correlation with empathy independent of gender. On multivariate analysis evaluating measures of distress and well-being simultaneously, both burnout (negative correlation) and well-being (positive correlation) independently correlated with student empathy scores.