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008 Interfaces between clinical empathy and patient-centered care
  1. Aline Albuquerque
  1. Post-Graduate Program of Bioethics, University of Brasília, Brasília, Brazil


Introduction Clinical empathy and Patient-Centered Care (PCC) are closely linked, with the former being a key component of the latter.1 The literature on this linked must be sufficiently investigated and in- depth.

Methods The aim of this theoretical study was to analyze the interfaces between clinical empathy and PPC based on the theoretical formulations of Hardman and Howick,2 Hojat3 and Halpern4 on clinical empathy, and those of Russell5 about PCC.

Results Three modes of interaction between clinical empathy and PCC were identified: (i) PCC involves a partnership between healthcare professionals and patients, with equal value placed on the patient‘s perspective; (ii) PPC integrates the patient‘s needs, preferences, and values, which implies understanding of the patient‘s mental state; (iii) PCC aims to support the patient, promoting prosocial behaviors towards the patient.

Discussion PCC is a partnership between the patient and healthcare professionals; thus, for the patient to be understood as a partner, their perspective, needs, and other mental states need to be valued as an expression of their agency through clinical empathy. If PCC implies that decisions should respect patient´s values, needs, and preferences, then only clinical empathy provides the understanding of the patient´s perspective, as it is a unique epistemological function. Empathy is a predictor of prosocial behaviors, such as those involved in patient support, so empathy capacity may be an essential factor in promoting helping and supporting behaviors for patient’s involvement in their care.

Conclusion PPC is ethically marked by the commitment of health professionals to consider the patient as an active agent endowed with their mental states and particular situations, which relates to clinical empathy, as the capacity that allows the professional to connect with the patient‘s world.


  1. Hardman D, Howick J. The friendly relationship between therapeutic empathy and person-centered care. Healthcare. 2019;19(2).

  2. Hojat M, et al. Clinical empathy: definition, measurement, correlates, group differences, erosion, enhancement, and healthcare outcomes. Discover Health Systems. 2023;2(8).

  3. Halpern, Jodi. From idealized clinical empathy to empathic communication in medical care. Med Health Care and Philos, 2014;(17):301–311.

  4. Russell, Grant. Have we forgotten the moral justification for patient-centered care? BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;31:172–174.

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