Psychometric testing of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy Health Profession Students' version with Australian paramedic students

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Abstract

Evidence now suggests that improved empathic behaviors can have a positive impact on healthcare outcomes. Therefore, having psychometrically-sound empathy scales is important for healthcare educators. In this study, the factor structure of the 20-item Jefferson Scale Empathy–Health Profession Students' version, when completed by a group of undergraduate paramedic students from a large Australian university, was investigated. Data from the Scale completed by 330 paramedic students were analyzed using principal components analysis followed by a maximum likelihood confirmatory factor analysis to test goodness of fit to the sample data. Two factors emerged from the principal components analysis, “compassionate care” and “perspective taking”, accounting for 44.2% of the total variance. The 17-item two-factor model produced good model fit and good reliability estimates. Three of the original items did not fit the model. Results from the confirmatory factor analysis suggest that the 17-item Jefferson Scale Empathy–Health Profession Students' version is a valid and reliable measure for undergraduate paramedic students' empathy levels.

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