To empathize is to have the ability to understand, and relate to another person. Kind of like “talking the same language.” According to a new study published in the journal Academic Science, patients who received care by a doctor who was empathetic to their needs appeared to have better overall health results.

The research was a joint project between American and Italian doctors.  More than 20,000 people with diabetes were followed in Italy, along with their primary care doctors.  The 242 doctors being studied took an empathy test called the Jefferson Scale of Empathy. The researchers documented patient results regarding medical complications, and hospitalizations. During the course of one year there were 123 hospitalizations due to acute metabolic complications, such as high blood sugar levels. The study, remarkably linked the rate of hospitalizations to the doctors’ empathy levels – 29 patients of doctors who scored higher on the test were hospitalized compared to 42 patients of doctors who scored lower on the test and were hospitalized.  “The findings show even more empirical support for the beneficial effects of empathy in patient care,” said study researcher Mohammadreza Hojat, Ph.D., a research professor at Thomas Jefferson University….. Huffington Post  9/14/12

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