Parting Thoughts: A Systemic Paradigm of Empathy in Patient Care and Future Directions

  • Mohammadreza Hojat


  • Empathy in health professions education and patient care is viewed from a broader and more comprehensive perspective of systems theory.

  • In a systemic paradigm of empathy in patient care, the contributions of major subsets of the system (e.g., clinician-related, nonclinician-related, social learning, and education) and their related elements to clinical encounters that lead to functional or dysfunctional system outcomes are discussed.

  • An agenda for future research is outlined which includes: (1) exploration of additional components of empathy in the context of health professions education and patient care; (2) the investigation of additional variables that are beneficial or detrimental to empathy in patient care; (3) consideration of empathy as a criterion for admissions, selection, and employment; (4) the study of empathy as a predictor of career choice, academic and professional success; (5) the development and evaluation of approaches to enhance and sustain empathy in health professions education and patient care; (6) development of approaches to maximize empathy and regulate sympathy; (7) the development of national norm tables and cutoff scores to identify JSE high and low scorers; (8) consideration of patients’ and peers’ perspectives in outcomes of empathy research; and (9) further explorations of neurological underpinnings of empathy.

  • It is suggested that implementation of remedies for enhancing and sustaining empathy is a mandate that must be acted upon, not only by academic medical centers but by all other educational institutions.


Systems theory Empathy paradigm Social learning Clinical outcomes Future research Empathy and admissions Admission interview Letters of recommendation Personal statements Letter of intend Emotional empathy Cognitive empathy Essay Career choice Enhancing empathy Sustaining empathy Empathy maximized Sympathy optimized Sympathy regulated National norm cutoff scores Patients’ perspectives Peer evaluations 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammadreza Hojat
    • 1
  1. 1.Sidney Kimmel Medical College Thomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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