The intensity of empathy in adolescents treated in a day unit – preliminary reports
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Uniwersytet Jagielloński Collegium Medicum, Katedra Psychiatrii, Zakład Zaburzeń Afektywnych
Uniwersytet Jagielloński Collegium Medicum, Katedra Psychiatrii, Zakład Terapii Rodzin i Psychosomatyki
Uniwersytet Jagielloński Collegium Medicum, Katedra Epidemiologii i Medycyny Zapobiegawczej
Renata Modrzejewska   

Zakład Zaburzeń Afektywnych Katedry Psychiatrii UJ CM w Krakowie
Submission date: 2022-05-17
Final revision date: 2022-09-25
Acceptance date: 2022-09-28
Online publication date: 2022-12-23
Publication date: 2022-12-23
The aim of the pilot study was to compare the level of empathy among adolescents treated in a psychiatric day unit in groups with varied age, gender and type of disorder (conduct and emotional disorders and depressive-anxiety disorders).

The study was carried out in a group of 117 adolescents (69 girls and 48 boys) aged 13–20, treated in the Clinical Day Unit of the Department of Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry of the University Hospital in Kraków between 2016–2021. The Davis Empathy Scale and the Cohen Empathy Scale were used for the study.

Girls scored significantly higher compared to boys on the Cohen and Davis Empathy scales and on the Davis subscale: Personal Distress. Statistically significant interactions were observed for the factors of gender and age, as well as age and disorder type. Older boys had statistically significantly higher scores on the Davis Empathy Scale compared to younger boys, while the reverse pattern was observed for girls (non-significant). Older patients with conduct disorders had significantly lower Cohen’s Empathy Scale scores compared to younger patients; the opposite pattern was observed in the group of patients with anxiety-depressive disorders (non-significant).

Girls exhibit higher levels of affective and cognitive empathy than boys. The intensity of empathy increases with age in the group of boys, while for girls the obtained differences are not statistically significant. The intensity of empathy is significantly lower in the group of older adolescents (versus younger) with conduct and emotional disorders. Among depressive-anxiety disorders, the opposite pattern was noted (non-significant). The unique results obtained indicate a different trajectory of empathy development in the group of patients with conduct disorders and with depressive-anxiety disorders.