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Testing the core beliefs in medical students

 Mohammadreza Hojat, a human behavior researcher at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, developed a survey to measure empathy in medical students and residents. It is used in studies internationally and includes about 20 statements regarding the doctor-patient relationship. Students are asked to rate their level of agreement or disagreement on a 1-to-7 scale. A sample:

- Physicians’ understanding of their patients’ feelings and the feelings of their patients’ families does not influence medical or surgical treatment.

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- A physician’s sense of humor contributes to a better clinical outcome.

- Attention to patients’ emotions is not important in history taking.

- Physicians should try to stand in their patients’ shoes when providing care to them.

- I believe that emotion has no place in the treatment of medical illness.

- Physicians should not allow themselves to be influenced by strong personal bonds between their patients and their family members.

- I believe that empathy is an important therapeutic factor in medical treatment.

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