I Understand How You Feel: The Language of Empathy in Virtual Clinical Training

Yulia A. Strekalova, Janice L. Krieger, Jordan Neil, John P. Caughlin, A. J. Kleinheksel, Aaron Kotranza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Effective communication is one of the most fundamental aspects of successful patient care, and it frequently depends on the nurses’ ability to empathize with patients while finding effective ways to translate medical science into personally relevant health information. Skilled nurses are expected to understand the patient’s experiences and feelings and be able to communicate this understanding to the patient, but language strategies used to achieve the goal of empathic communication can vary. In this article, we employed the model of message design logics to evaluate what strategies nursing students (N = 343) used to express empathy during a simulated health history training. The results of this study advance our understanding of what constitutes a high-quality response to the disclosure of personal health history facts. In addition to providing a general framework for understanding empathic responses during health history assessment, the message design logic perspective highlights the differences in linguistic choices in simulated patient–provider conversations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-79
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • communication skills
  • empathy
  • language strategies
  • message design logics
  • virtual nursing training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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