Levels of empathy in speech therapy and audiology undergraduate students training at the University of Cape Town


  • Christine Rogers University of Cape Town
  • Zenzo Chakara University of Cape Town
  • Romy Cohen University of Cape Town
  • Kelsey Fourie University of Cape Town
  • Danielle Gounder University of Cape Town
  • Nyasha Makaruse University of Cape Town




Research has found empathy expressed by healthcare professionals to be beneficial to their relationship with patients, resulting in better patient outcomes as well as greater job satisfaction for clinicians. In line with the move towards patient-centred care, health science curricula have responded by including teaching of empathy, professional and communication skills to under-graduates.  A body of research exists exploring empathy levels among Health Sciences students; however, little research has been conducted with students on the African continent. The current study sought to establish the levels of empathy of all Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology students enrolled at the University of Cape Town. The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy-Health Profession Student version (JSE-HPS) was used to assess levels of empathy among students across all years of study. Results were analysed in terms of year of study, gender and degree programme. Students entered both Programmes with a positive attitude towards empathy, and this was sustained throughout their training, although gender differences existed with male students expressing less orientation towards empathy. Implications are discussed in the light of a South African context.


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