Empathy is sine qua non-ability of nurses and the positive effects of empathy on clinical management have been documented. In addition, its positive effects have also been reported in oncology practice. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the predictors of empathy skills and attitude towards cancer patients and association between nurses’ empathy skills on attitudes towards patients with cancer.
A structured questionnaire was used to evaluate the nurses’ empathy skills and their attitudes towards to patients with cancer. Jefferson Scale of Empathy(JSE) and Attitudes Towards Cancer Scale (ATCS) were used. The predictors of JSE/ATCS scores and correlation between JSE and ATCS were analyzed.
305 nurses participated in the study (84.2% of all nurses). The median age was 33 (20-52) and most of the nurses were female (82.6%). Most of the participants were married (188,61.6%) and 40.3% of nurses had an job experience more than 10 years. Female sex, being married, having job experience more than 10 years or caring more cancer patients were associated with higher JSE scores. Nurses caring more cancer patients weekly, experience with cancer patients, participation in educational activities about cancer care or presence of relative with a diagnosis of cancer were found to have more positive attitudes towards cancer patients. Spearman correlation analysis showed a positive, weak correlation between JSE and ATCS (r = 0.017, p = 0.38)
Empathy skills are important while caring patients, especially in oncology practice. Although a direct correlation between empathy skills and attitudes towards cancer patients couldn’t be demonstrated, health care workers caring cancer patients should be both evaluated for empathy skills and educated.
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.