How death anxiety and empathy are affected in a class of medical students who have experienced a peer death

Trend, Fiona (2004) How death anxiety and empathy are affected in a class of medical students who have experienced a peer death. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Death is a certainty. We are socialized into our understanding of death by the culture, family, and society in which we live. We also live in a highly medicalized society. While it is possible for most of us to travel through life and, for the most part not think about death and dying, doctors do not always have that luxury. As a medical student one will unerringly be exposed to death as a part of their professionalization. In facing death, doctors face their own vulnerability. What they do with their emotions when they encounter death can influence the way they interact with patients. Showing empathy and compassion towards patients is essential for a good doctor-patient relationship. Research suggests, for example, that patient compliance is related to the physician's ability to communicate effectively with patients, and empathy is the key aspect of this communication (Jarski, 1987). In a class of medical students who have experienced a peer death, there is a unique opportunity to look at the effects of death on empathy and death anxiety. Differences between classes were statistically insignificant ( p > .05) for both empathy, measured with Hogan's Empathy Scale, and fear of death, measured with the Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale. When divided into gender, females presented as slightly more empathetic than the men in the study ( p > .10). Gender also had a significant effect on overall death anxiety (p > .015), and the "fear of death of self" ( p > .000) and "fear of dying of self" (p > .01) domains of the scale with females presenting as more fearful. When divided by age, empathy scores were not statistically different between the groups. There was a significant difference in death anxiety for the overall scale (p > .01) and "fear of dying of others" (p > .01) with those 25 years of age and older presenting with less death anxiety.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 9833
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 67-70.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2004
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Empathy; Fear of death; Medical students--Newfoundland and Labrador--St. John's--Psychology.

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