More than a Feeling: The Role of Empathetic Care in Promoting Safety in Healthcare
48 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 11, 2016
In this paper we use inductive and deductive methods to explore the role of empathy in care-giving jobs: Specifically, the relationship between empathetic care and patient safety. We argue that empathetic care is evidenced by extra-role behavior, emotional engagement, and relational richness between paid caregivers and clients. We develop our model using qualitative interviews with paid caregivers, and test it using quantitative case studies in six skilled nursing facilities. We find that empathetic care predicts patient safety, but only under some circumstances. Specifically, we find that patient load, overtime work, and financial hardship dampen the otherwise positive relationship between empathetic care and safety. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design of care jobs.
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