Study: The Relationship Between Physician Empathy and Disease Complications: An Empirical Study of Primary Care Physicians and Their Diabetic Patients in Parma, Italy

To test the hypothesis that scores of a validated measure of physician empathy are associated with clinical outcomes for patients with diabetes mellitus.

This retrospective correlational study included 20,961 patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus from a population of 284,298 adult patients in the Local Health Authority, Parma, Italy, enrolled with one of 242 primary care physicians for the entire year of 2009.

Participating physicians’ Jefferson Scale of Empathy scores were compared with occurrence of acute metabolic complications (hyperosmolar state, diabetic ketoacidosis, coma) in diabetes patients hospitalized in 2009….

These results suggest that physician empathy is significantly associated with clinical outcome for patients with diabetes mellitus and should be considered an important component of clinical competence.