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Empathy: A Practice, Not an Emotion  

Author:  Catherine M. Knox.

Source: Volume 29, Number 01, Fall 2019 , pp.15-16(2)

Journal of Community Justice (formerly Journal of Community Corrections)

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Empathy has been discussed as a basic component of effective nursing practice since the 1960s. This article examines the practice of empathy in correctional health care. It shows how empathy produces insight into a patient’s experience and coping with illness, and how these insights facilitate the nurse’s diagnostic accuracy; problem solving and care become more patient-centered. When patients feel understood they become engaged in a helping relationship with the health care professional and are more likely to adhere to treatment recommendations and follow advice about healthy lifestyle changes. The author also cites research that the presence of nursing staff with higher than average empathy is associated with reduced use of seclusion and restraint in acute psychiatric settings and enhanced patient safety in long term care settings.

Keywords: Listening, reasoning, and understanding in correctional health care

Affiliations:  1: Nursing Consultant.

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