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Empathy, Psychometrics, Reproducibility of Results, Students, Health Occupations


Background: Empathy is the ability to understand and identify with another person’s feelings and is important in student development.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess reliability of the Kiersma-Chen Empathy Scale (KCES)[1] and its subscales in health professions students.

Methods: Students in six programs received two administrations. Surveys were matched and deidentified before analysis. Total and subscale homogeneity was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha. Association between subscale and total scores was assessed using Pearson correlation. Total and subscale reliability was determined using two-way intraclass correlation coefficients. Minimum detectable change (MDC95)[2] was calculated.

Results: Two hundred three students were included. Total score demonstrated good internal consistency reliability. Both subscales demonstrated fair internal consistency reliability. Subscales demonstrated significant and strong correlations with the total, but significant and fair correlations with each other. Total and subscale scores demonstrated moderate test-retest reliability. MDC95 were 12.8 (total), 8.4 (cognitive), and 6.5 (affective).

Conclusion: The KCES and subscales demonstrate sufficient test-retest and internal consistency reliability. The subscales demonstrate convergent and divergent validity. Responsiveness data may be used to assess changes. The KCES is appropriate to measure health professions students’ empathy.

[1] KCES is the Kiersma-Chen Empathy Scale

[2] MDC95 is Minimum Detectable Change with 95% confidence


IRB: 18-165