Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Randy Busse

Second Advisor

Dawn Hunter

Third Advisor

Penny S. Bryan


Empathy is an indispensable professional quality in nursing. It correlates positively with the quality of caring, the nurse-patient relationship, patient satisfaction, and the outcomes of treatment. Understanding and cultivating empathy of nursing undergraduates has been one of the main focuses of nursing education. Taking into account the lack of quantitative research into the empathy of nursing undergraduates at China’s private colleges and the inconsistencies in the current literature in terms of assessments of the empathy levels of nursing undergraduates, this study used the Interpersonal Reactivity Index scale to examine the empathy levels of 644 nursing undergraduates at a private university in China. The findings revealed nursing students at the private university reported moderate levels of empathy, with the highest scores on an empathy concern subscale and the lowest on a personal distress subscale. Furthermore, nursing students who perceived empathy as very important and loved their profession reported relatively higher average empathy scores, and contrary to some previous research, no significant differences were found across cohorts/year of study. Based on the findings, suggestions are proferred regarding China’s current nursing education policies and practices. It is suggested that researchers consider assessing the empathy ability of nursing students more comprehensively in this field and that schools should provide assessment and intervention to address empathy in their nursing students.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Sunday, August 13, 2023