Journal Mobile

D Jeffrey
Journal Issue: 
Volume 47: Issue 3: 2017




The medical profession has adopted a cognitive model of empathy, or detached concern, in its professionalism and practice. As a consequence there is now an empathy gap which has been demonstrated by lapses in patient care in the UK. There may also be an empathy gap developing in medical students during their training. This paper argues for the adoption of a relational view of empathy which embraces emotional and moral dimensions of the concept, acknowledges the importance of the clinical context and prioritises the relationship between the doctor and patient. A relational model extends to encompass the patient’s family and all members of the healthcare team. By exploring the process of empathising in clinical practice I develop a relational model that is more appropriate for modern patterns of patient care and medical education than detached concern. Adoption of a relational model of empathy in training and practice can help bridge the empathy gap.