How Do Physicians Teach Empathy in the Primary Care Setting?

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

To explore how primary care clinician–teachers actually attempt to convey empathy to medical students and residents, the author carried out a qualitative study in 1999–2000 in which 12 primary care physicians reflected on their views of empathy, how they demonstrated empathy to patients, and how they went about teaching empathy to learners. Interview data were triangulated with observations of actual teaching sessions and informal questioning of students and residents who had been taught by the faculty participants. Grounded theory was used to interpret the data.

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