Attachment styles as predictors of empathy in nursing students


Previous studies have traced a relationship between the attachment styles of nurses working as in healthcare teams and their empathy which is an essential characteristic required of people concerned with managing relationships, supporting social events, and improving the of nurse-patient relationships.  Since determining the effective variables in the quality of nurse-patient relationships in clinical settings is of paramount importance, current investigation is an effort to examine the relationship between attachment styles and empathy in nursing students.
260 university students (male = 130 and female = 130) were chosen as the sample of the study based upon specific inclusion criteria. All participants completed the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ) and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI). Data was collected and analyzed using Pearson correlation coefficient and regression analysis with SPSS (v.18).
The results showed that secure and insecure attachment styles have significant positive and negative correlation with empathy respectively. Based on the results of regression analysis, it was shown that secure attachment style is predicting 53% of the variance empathy variable, whereas insecure attachment styles are explaining up to 76% of the variance empathy variable collectively.
The increase of attention to instructions that focus on empathetic relationships with patients and that are based upon the secure attachment style can result in positive changes in the area of nurse-patient relations and in increasing attention to medical ethics. Findings are consistent with prediction derived from attachment theory and add to our understanding of relationship between attachment styles with empathy in nursing students. The meaning and limitations of this study and suggestions for further research are also discussed.

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Attachment styles, Empathy, Personality, Nurses.

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Khodabakhsh M. Attachment styles as predictors of empathy in nursing students. J Med Ethics Hist Med. 2012;5.