Objective

Empathy is an important modifiable quality of health care practitioners that relates to the quality of patient care. The educative process may adversely affect the empathy levels of health care students at key phases of training. This topic remains unexplored in chiropractic students to date.

Methods

A voluntary and anonymous questionnaire was distributed to all chiropractic students in an Australian university-based program in April 2021. This questionnaire recorded age, sex, year of study, and Toronto Empathy Questionnaire scores.

Results

Chiropractic student empathy scores approximated those of other Australian health care students. No statistical differences were found when comparing the mean scores of empathy levels across the 5 student cohorts. The empathy levels of female chiropractic students' were significantly higher than those of the male chiropractic students.

Conclusion

This study provides a baseline from which further explorations on empathy may be conducted in chiropractic students. This holds the potential to improve practitioners' quality of life and patient outcomes and for educators to identify subject matter that may negatively affect empathy levels.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

J. Keith Simpson is an adjunct senior lecturer in the College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education at Murdoch University (90 South Street, Murdoch, 6163 Western Australia; K.Simpson@murdoch.edu.au).

Concept development: JKS. Design: SI and JKS. Supervision: SI. Data collection/processing: SI. Analysis/interpretation: SI. Literature search: SI, JKS. Writing: SI. Critical review: SI, KS.