The Level of Empathy and Psychological Distress in Nurses and Health Technicians

Dubravka Holik, Andrea Milostić-Srb, Bruno Popić, Stjepan Rudan, Antun Bajan, Helena Javorček, Ljiljana Majnarić-Trtica


The aim of the study was to examine the overall level of empathy, its affective and cognitive aspects, the level of psychological stress, and to determine the relationship between empathy, emotions and psychological stress in nurses and health technicians employed at the Clinical Hospital Center Osijek. A cross-sectional study was conducted from March to June 2019 among 152 nurses and health technicians using the authors personally prepared questionnaire, and standard questionnaires BES, PANAS and K10 to evaluate empathy, positive and negative emotions and psychological distress of respondents. Respondents exhibited a middle – a higher degree of total empathy (median 50 and interquartile range of 43–56), with more emphasized affective than cognitive component. Psychological distress was confirmed in 65% of respondents. There was a correlation between affective and cognitive empathy (p<0.001, r = 0.355). People with a higher degree of distress also had more negative emotions that tended to increase with increasing distress (p <0.001, r = 0.426). Healthcare workers are mostly empathic and in a great deal exhibit psychological distress. It is necessary to carry out systematic surveys among health personnel to determine the empathy and distress levels to detect the risk groups who need help with stress prevention.

DOI: 10.5671/ca.46.1.5


psychological distress, empathy, nurses, health technicians

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