Hypertension, perceived clinician empathy, and patient self-disclosure


  • Carolyn Dawson RN PhD

    Associate, Professor, Corresponding author
    • College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 600 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53792
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Dr. Carolyn Dawson is an associate professor, and program director of advanced training in psychiatric-mental health nursing, College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin at Madison.


The purpose of this study was to compare groups of outpatient hypertensive and diabetic patients to a control group (no known chronic illnesses) on their perceptions of clinician empathy and the importance and difficulty of disclosing information about themselves to health care providers. It was hypothesized that hypertensives would differ from the other groups in perceiving less clinician empathy and in attributing less importance, but greater difficulty, to self-disclosing. The sample was 54 hypertensives, 47 diabetics, and 115 nonchronically ill patients. Each subject completed the Empathy scale of the Barrett-Lennard Relationship Inventory and a patient self-disclosure questionnaire. The empathy hypothesis was supported but the self-disclosure hypotheses were not. Hypertensive patients differed from other patients in perceiving the least clinician empathy and in attributing the greatest importance to discussing their responses to health care.