Erosion of empathy during medical training by gender. A cross-sectional study

Aracelis Calzadilla-Núñez, Víctor P. Díaz-Narváez, Yolanda Dávila-Pontón, Juan Aguilera-Muñoz, Natalia Fortich-Mesa, Dilia Aparicio-Marenco, Alejandro Reyes-Reyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Empathy erosion may be defined as a sudden decline in the levels of empathy that occurs as of the third year of medical school and continues until the fifth year. According to some authors, this process is normal during medical training and may be considered a model of empathic behavior. The objective of this study was to verify whether empathy erosion is a general phenomenon in the schools of medicine included in the study and its relation to gender.

DESIGN: Exploratory, cross-sectional study.

POPULATION: Students from first through sixth year of the School of Medicine of Universidad del Azuay (Cuenca, Ecuador) and from first through fifth year of the School of Medicine of Corporación Universitaria Rafael Nuñez (Colombia).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The levels of overall empathy and of each component were estimated using the Jefferson Scale of Empathy, which was administered in both schools during July and August of 2016. The significance level was established at α < 0.05. Results. Universidad del Azuay: n= 278 (98% of all students); women= 112; men= 166; Corporación Universitaria Rafael Nuñez: n= 756 (77.86% of all students); women= 434; men= 322. The model of erosion of empathy is not fulfilled at the level of overall empathy or of each studied component according to gender.

CONCLUSIONS: Empathy erosion is a specific element of several different models of empathic response (and of its components). Men and women do not have the same empathic response. Such response, in the studied conditions, is variable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)556-561
Number of pages6
JournalArchivos Argentinos de Pediatria
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • empathy
  • empathy erosion
  • medicine students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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