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Development of a French-language version of the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy and association with practice characteristics and burnout in a sample of General Practitioners

Franck Zenasni, E. Boujut, Bluffel du Vaure, A. Catu-Pinault, J.L. Tavani, L. Rigal, P. Jaury, A. Marie Magnier, H. Falcoff, S. Sultan


Clinical empathy is cognitive disposition involving understanding the inner experiences and perspectives of patients, combined with the ability to communicate this understanding to patients and is a key clinical skill of person-centered medicine. The 3 objectives of this paper are: (1) to develop a French version of the Jefferson Scale for Physician Empathy (JSPE) with appropriate psychometric properties; (2) to explore the relationships of clinical empathy with the sociodemographic characteristics of physicians, their training and aspects of their practice and (3) to examine associations between clinical empathy and burnout. A sample of 308 general practitioners was included. Confirmatory factor analyses suggested a factor structure close to the original questionnaire. However, they suggest that the use of a general empathy score is not warranted. According to the factor considered, greater empathy was independently related to being a woman, living as a couple, having experience of psychotherapy and longer consultations As expected, a negative relationship was observed between empathy factors and burnout. Burnout could affect the ability of GPs to be empathic or the way they describe their own empathic skills.


Burnout, clinical skill, family medicine, general practitioner, person-centered medicine, physician empathy, primary care, questionnaire

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