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Empathy in the relationship between patients and doctors

PhD project within the Industrial Doctoral School at Umeå University.

The project is about studying empathy in the patient-doctor relationship. The focus is on possible changes and strategies for maintaining empathy among physicians.

Head of project

Johanna von Knorring
Research student

Project overview

Project period:

2016-06-24 2025-05-01

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Clinical Sciences

Research area

Clinical medicine

Project description

The overall purpose of Johanna von Knorring’s doctoral project is to try to make visible how a doctor's self-perceived empathy changes from undergraduate education to work as a senior colleague.

Studies done in the past show a risk that empathy may decrease both during the education and during the work as a doctor. The project aims to explore which processes and factors affect, as well as how empathy can be maintained and developed in becoming a doctor. The project also aims to study patients' experiences of empathy in the patient-physician relationship, something that we believe is important to increase understanding of the research issue.

All subprojects use qualitative methods to shed light on doctors 'and patients' experiences of empathy. Within the framework of the project, Johanna von Knorring conducts interview studies with medical students, doctors at different stages of their careers, and patients.

Through a combination of different target groups and interview methods, the project contributes to a more multifaceted picture of empathy in the patient-doctor relationship and factors that affect empathy in becoming a doctor and in professional life, respectively.

The results are also expected to lead to knowledge about how teaching can provide increased conditions for the maintenance and development of empathy during all phases of becoming a doctor. This leads to improved quality for both education and healthcare.

Latest update: 2023-03-21