Is empathy of health professionals more dependent on facial expression recognition accuracy or personality trait?

Azra Kurtić, Maida Mulić, Zihnet Selimbašić


Background: Empathy is an indispensable part of health care. The outcome of empathic response is satisfaction on sides, patient and health professionals. But it also requires a great deal of healthcare staff’s engagement what is exhausting and burdening. Many variables in increasing or decreasing way affect empathy.

Aim: Combining facial emotion recognition and personal affective traits, the focus was to determine which one is a better predictor of health professional’s empathy.

Methods: Therefore, a total of 150 health professionals was assessed in the level of empathy, position on extraversion-introversion dimension and ability to accurately recognize facial expressions of emotion. Gender and working experience were controlling variables in predicting the health professional’s empathy.

Results: Generally, results show that extraverted health professionals with high accuracy of facial expression recognition have also higher empathy scores. Both studied variables were good predictors of health professional’s empathy whit a stronger unique contribution of personality traits.

Conclusion: Managing health professionals human resources based on their empathy could serve, in long term, to prevent individual level occurrences such as burnout syndrome and extended work absenteeism, and on an organizational level many legal issues and to enhance better treatment outcomes, trust in health professionals with mutual satisfaction. Further studies are required for application in clinical settings.


Keywords: empathy, facial expression, affective personality traits

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.5457/ams.v50i1-2.554