More Than a Feeling: The Role of Empathetic Care in Promoting Safety in Health Care

Publication Date:
Mar 2018
Published In:

Authors: Carrie Leana, Jirs Meuris, Cait Lamberton

In this article, the authors use inductive and deductive methods to explore the role of empathy in care-giving jobs: specifically, the relationship between empathetic care and patient safety. The authors argue that empathetic care is evidenced by extra-role behavior, emotional engagement, and relational richness between paid caregivers and clients. They develop a model using qualitative interviews with paid caregivers and test it using quantitative case studies in six skilled-nursing facilities. Findings show that empathetic care predicts patient safety, but only under some circumstances. Specifically, patient load, overtime work, and financial hardship dampen the otherwise positive relationship between empathetic care and safety. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for the design of care jobs.


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