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Background: Though several studies have identified nurses’ empathy levels there are few studies investigating student nurses’ empathic ability. The aim of the study was to explore nursing students’ level of empathy as well as related variables influencing empathic ability. Method and material: A cross-sectional study carried out in a nursing school of a Technological Educational Institute in Greece. A sample of 279 (N=279) nursing students agreed to participate in the study, giving a response rate of 77.5%. Students completed the Jefferson Scale of Nursing Students Empathy, a valid and reliable self-report scale. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used for the data analysis. Results: Overall nursing students displayed a moderate level of empathy (M=88.63; SD=8.93). Females were found to be significantly more empathetic than males (p 0.001). The 6th semester students displaying more empathetic ability and the 1st semester students the least. Students who had made their own choice to study nursing and those who expressed a willingness to work as nurses after their graduation recorded higher levels of empathy as did those who acknowledged they had received emotional care from their families. Students who reported the ability to sense how another person is feeling in a given situation or had received training to sense another person’s feelings or worked with clinical instructors who presented emotional understanding in their approach to patients, demonstrated higher levels of empathy. In addition, religious beliefs and nationally were also significant variables. Conclusions: Empathy is an important multi-dimensional trait of nurses which could be fostered in the early stages f nursing students’ undergraduate studies. A thorough investigation of the contributing factors to forming an empathic ability is essential in order to inform the restructuring of the nursing curricula.
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Author(s): Ouzouni Christina