Empathy: Challenges Experienced by Social Workers in the Healthcare Sector on the Island of Crete, Greece

Trigoni Maria*, Mikits Militsa and Mpanagi Evaggelia

Empathy: Challenges Experienced by Social Workers in the Healthcare Sector on the Island of Crete, Greece.

There were differences in the way that social workers perceive the concept of empathy, depending on their prior experiences. It was also found that they are more “sensitive” when patients have a common problem with them. Among the difficulties that prevented them from being empathetic was having “a difficult personal period” that affected their work. This study has also identified
the importance of professional training for the development of empathy skills, and the key-role of work experience. Moreover, it highlighted the importance of co-operation between the researchers and the social workers for generating efficacious and valuable information.

According to the literature, the concept of empathy in social work is important, as it improves outcomes,21 by developing a productive relationship between social workers and patients. It
is a critical factor ineffective social work, quality of care, patient safety, and satisfaction. Empathy is at the core of the relationship among social workers and patients, as without it, successful outcomes might be difficult to obtain. Empathy is an innate human capability, and a major tool for professional social work greatly enhanced through words and body language.

However, a study by Nilsson contradicted this finding and argued that there is no empirical evidence to suggest a relationship between empathy/compassion and professional fatigue. On the contrary, the use of empathy and compassion may contribute to a health professional’s ability to regulate his or her feelings.

The participants tried to describe how they perceived the concept of empathy. Common points involved performance. Everyone agreed that empathy is a social worker’s ability to recognize, understand and accept a patient’s perspective and problem in order to be able to provide appropriate support.

Soc Behav Res Pract Open J
. 2020; 5(2): 53-60. doi: 10.17140/SBRPOJ-5-128