Distinct correlates of empathy and compassion with burnout and affective symptoms in health professionals and students


Braz. J. Psychiatry




Objective: The causes of high rates of psychological distress among health professionals and students are largely unknown. Health professionals respond to those who are in distress with empathy (feeling what others feel) or compassion (caring about what others feel). This study aims to investigate whether empathy and compassion are distinct traits and how both traits are associated with negative affect (burnout, depression, anxiety and anger symptoms) in undergraduate students and professionals in medicine, psychology and nursing. Methods: A sample of 464 students and professionals filled out an online protocol with a sociodemographic data questionnaire and self-report questionnaires covering the variables of interest. Results: The findings indicate that empathy is associated with higher negative affect, while compassion is associate with lower negative affect, which suggests that they are different traits. Conclusion: Our findings provide new evidence that the well-being of health professionals might be affected differently depending on socioemotional traits relevant to emotional connection.

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