To explore the impact of empathy between Chinese doctors and patients on anxiety, self-efficacy, sleep and IL-6 levels in hospitalized asthmatic patients.
This study included 195 asthmatic patients and 30 respirologists in China. The Jefferson Empathy Scale (JSE) was used to measure the empathy level of doctors, and the consultation and relational empathy (CARE) scale was used to measure patients’ perception of empathy between themselves and their doctors. Doctors were divided into three groups, according to JSE scores. Data about anxiety, self-efficacy, sleep and IL-6 were collected and compared between patients in different JSE groups at admission (T1) and 3 months later (T2). The correlation between JSE scores and CARE scores was analyzed. Pearson correlation analysis along with a structural equation model was applied to explore the relevance among anxiety, self-efficacy, sleep, inflammatory factors (IL-6) and patients’ perception of empathy shown by their doctors.
There was no statistical difference between the indices of patients in three groups at admission. For all patients, the changes of indicators were statistically different from T1 to T2. Three months later, patients in high empathy scoring group showed lower anxiety and IL-6, and higher self-efficacy and sleep quality. There was a positive correlation between JSE and CARE scores. Patients’ perception of doctor-patient empathy was negatively correlated to anxiety levels and IL-6, and positively correlated to self-efficacy and sleep quality. Anxiety, self-efficacy and sleep quality were mediators in the relationship between patients’ perception of empathy and IL-6.
In the Chinese sample, anxiety, self-efficacy, sleep, empathy between doctors and patients and IL-6 are closely correlated. Anxiety, self-efficacy and sleep may play additional roles in the influence of patients’ perception of empathy between doctors and patients on IL-6 in asthmatic patients.

© 2020 Wu et al.