Objective: Empathy is the most frequently mentioned humanistic dimension of patient care and is considered to be an important quality in physicians. The importance of fostering the development of empathy in undergraduate students is continuously emphasised in international recommendations for medical education. Our aim was to validate and adapt the Slovenian version of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy- Students version (JSE-S) on a sample of first-year medical students.
Methods: First-year students of the Medical faculty in Ljubljana participated in the research. JSE-S version, a selfadministered 20-item questionnaire, was used for collecting the data. Descriptive statistics at the item level and at the scale level, factor analysis, internal consistency and test-retest reliability (two weeks after the first administration) of the JSE-S were performed.
Results: 234 out of 298 (response rate 78.5%) students completed JSE-S. The mean score for the items on the 7-point Likert scale ranged from 3.27 (SD 1.72) to 6.50 (SD 0.82). The mean score for the scale (possible range from 20 to 140) was 107.6 (from 71 to 131, SD 12.6). Using factor analysis, we identified six factors, describing 57.2% of total variability. The Cronbach alpha as a measure of internal consistency was 0.79. The instrument has good temporal stability (test-retest reliability ICC = 0.703).
Conclusion: Findings support the construct validity and reliability of JSE-S for measuring empathy in medical students in Slovenia. Future research is required to evaluate factors contributing to empathy.