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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Jeremy Howick

Developing an Empathic Way of Being
in Healthcare

Jeremy Howick

Jeremy Howick is senior researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Services at University of Oxford.  His research lies at the crossroads of philosophy and medicine. His interest in empathetic care grew out of his interest in placebo effects.  Jeremy is also founder and director of the The Oxford Empathetic Care Program.


The Oxford Empathetic Care Programme (OxCare) is an interdisciplinary research group that includes medical practitioners, philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists.

Aims:  Promote the importance of empathy in clinical practice. This includes empathetic relationships between patients (and their families) and healthcare practitioners, as well as empathetic relationships between healthcare systems and patients/practitioners.


1. To develop and maintain a glossary of empathy (and related terms) definitions
2. To maintain a database of key measures of empathy
3. To identify and reduce contextual obstacles to empathy
4. Explore the relationship between evidence-based healthcare and empathetic healthcare
5. To develop empathy training for healthcare practitioners and healthcare managers
6. To develop a research program
7. To identify obstacles and facilitators to empathy
8. Explore the relevance of empathy to professional burnout and stress
9. To investigate whether the current model of revalidation is empathetic
10. To investigate how can empathetic care improve value-based healthcare

The Doctor by Luke Fildes (Wikipedia)

Sub Conference: Health Care



Developing an Empathic Way of Being in Healthcare: Jeremy Howick and Edwin Rutsch  


Founder of the The Oxford Empathetic Care Program (OxCare)
an interdisciplinary research group that includes medical practitioners, philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists.


Workshop: putting empathy into practice

about this event

Evidence suggests that empathy improves patient outcomes and practitioner well-being, yet the extent to which practitioners express empathy is variable.

This workshop will cover the theory and practice of empathy in healthcare, showing how individuals can enhance empathy in their own work and in their organisations.  

Dr Howick and Dr Rees will demonstrate evidence-based knowledge and skills relating to empathy, and how this can improve patient benefit and clinician job satisfaction.

topics include: 

  • The evidence linking empathy with improved patient, practitioner, and system outcomes.
  • How healthcare can support the develop of empathic practice.
  • The facilitators and barriers to delivering empathic care
  • Personal strategies for enhancing empathic care 




Effects of changing practitioner empathy and patient expectations in healthcare consultations
"The main aim of this review will be to assess the effects of changing practitioner empathy or patient expectations for all conditions. The main objective is to conduct a systematic review of randomised trials where the intervention involves manipulating either (a) practitioner empathy or (b) patient expectations, or (c) both."



Empathetic doctors: It is never just in your mind (and exposing Descartes' error)   

"Empathetic doctors who communicate well can improve patient outcomes as much as some blockbuster drugs. A common response to this statement is: “Maybe being nice improves someone’s psychology, but it can’t improve biomechanical problems”.

In fact dozens of studies show that patients’ expectations (for example after being given a placebo, or a positive suggestion such as “this pill is really going to make you better”) can improve both symptoms and biological causes of pain, anxiety, Parkinson’s Disease, and many other conditions."





Howick J, Ulyte A, Steinkopf L, Meissner K. Measuring practitioner empathy with patient surveys: a systematic review and meta-analysis (protocol). PROSPERO record no. CRD42016037456.

Howick J, Fanshawe TR, Mebius A, Lewith G, Heneghan CJ, Bishop F, Little P, Mistiaen P, Roberts NW. Effects of changing practitioner empathy and patient expectations in healthcare consultations. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2015), Issue 11. Art. No.: CD011934. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011934

Mistiaen P, van Osch M, van Vliet L, Howick J, Bishop F, Di Blasi Z, Bensing J, van Dulmen S. The effect of patient-practioner communication on pain: a systematic review. European Journal of Pain (2015). DOI: 10.1002/ejp.797.


Do it yourself health empathy as medication and a course of emotional learning


Empathy - Jeremy Howick