Patient perceptions of physician empathy, satisfaction with physician, interpersonal trust, and compliance

Mohammadreza Hojat1, Daniel Z. Louis1, Kaye Maxwell1, Fred Markham2, Richard Wender2 and Joseph S. Gonnella2

1Center for Research in Medical Education and Health Care, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, USA

2Department of Family and Community Medicine, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, USA

Submitted: 08/11/2010; Accepted: 09/12/2010; Published: 14/12/2010

Int J Med Educ. 2010; 1:83-87; doi: 10.5116/ijme.4d00.b701

© 2010 Mohammadreza Hojat et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: This study was designed to investigate psychometric properties of the Jefferson Scale of Patient Perceptions of Physician Empathy (JSPPPE), and to examine correlations between its scores and measures of overall satisfaction with physicians, personal trust, and indicators of patient compliance.

Methods: Research participants included 535 out-patients (between 18-75 years old, 66% female). A survey was mailed to participants which included the JSPPPE (5-item), a scale for measuring overall satisfaction with the primary care physician (10-item), and demographic questions. Patients were also asked about compliance with their physician's recommendation for preventive tests (colonoscopy, mammogram, and PSA for age and gender appropriate patients).

Results: Factor analysis of the JSPPPE resulted in one prominent component. Corrected item-total score correlations ranged from .88 to .94. Correlation between scores of the JSPPPE and scores on the patient satisfaction scale was 0.93. Scores of the JSPPPE were highly correlated with measures of physician-patient trust (r >.73). Higher scores of the JSPPPE were significantly associated with physicians' recommendations for preventive tests (colonoscopy, mammogram, and PSA) and with compliance rates which were > .80). Cronbach's coefficient alpha for the JSPPPE ranged from .97 to .99 for the total sample and for patients in different gender and age groups.

Conclusions: Empirical evidence supported the psychometrics of the JSPPPE, and confirmed significant links with patients' satisfaction with their physicians, interpersonal trust, and compliance with physicians' recommendations. Availability of this psychometrically sound instrument will facilitate empirical research on empathy in patient care in different countries.