Coronavirus reinforces the importance of empathy


(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Narottam Sócrates Garcia Chumpitaz, a student of the fifth semester of Medicine of the Federal University of Roraima (UFRR). He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

When analyzing the hospital context in the last decades, the worldwide expansion of humanization actions in care is notorious, since the dignity of the human person often seems to be relegated to a secondary level due to the accelerated technical and scientific process, associated with the concept of efficiency1.

The importance of an even more human relationship in medicine during a pandemic is urgent. The fragility of patients in the face of the unknown, the presence of fear, the increase in insecurity, the awakening of anxiety and doubts with unanswered questions are triggers for empathy practices to be more frequent with patients.

At the same time, it must not be forgotten that doctors are human, even though they have sworn to save lives, which includes taking more risks, they also need welcoming, special care and respect to exercise the role they have chosen, committing themselves to health and everyone’s well-being.

Empathy is one of the most valuable skills sought by patients from their doctors, as it was evaluated by the self-perception of empathy in the residency program in the study by KUSZ, KAKARALA, CHAMPINE (2019), in which it is concluded that the development of empathy is a multifaceted and lifelong process, which must be cultivated during the training years through many different modalities. It is suggested that the patient’s history, coaching skills and self-reflection may be the most powerful ways to learn empathy.

According to PFATTHEICHER et al (2020), the idea that physical distance may be the result of genuine prosocial motivation – empathy for the most vulnerable to the virus was tested. They reviewed in three pre-registered studies that included samples from the USA (March 17), the United Kingdom and Germany (March 18), a total of N = 2,192 collected at the beginning of the outbreak, showing that empathy is really a basic motivation for physical detachment and induce empathy for people most vulnerable to the virus promotes motivation to adhere to physical detachment. Overall, the survey provides a better understanding of the basic motivation underlying the willingness to take an important step during the pandemic.

It is worth mentioning that social support and behavioral plans can reduce the negative psychological effects of isolation. Thus, having effective communication in times of crisis is necessary to help the perception of the general public, involving speed, honesty, credibility, empathy and the promotion of useful individual actions4.

Up to this moment, the envisaged way out is, in fact, each one is willing to cultivate and then practice empathy, be cautious, rational, civil and solidarity that everyone has to start applying in their daily lives. Think of the other equally with rights, duties, needs, fears, insecurities and uncertainties. In the midst of a delicate scenario. Whether you are a citizen or a health professional, you must clear your own ground, do not set aside personal immunization and be aware of the responsibility you exercise in society, as the proliferation of the new virus does not cancel out other diseases.


  • BACKES, Dirce Stein; LUNARDI, Valéria Lerch; LUNARDI FILHO, Wilson D.. A humanização hospitalar como expressão da ética. Rev. Latino-Am. Enfermagem, Ribeirão Preto, v.14, n.1, p.132-135, Fev.2006.
  • Pfattheicher, S., Nockur, L., Böhm, R., Sassenrath, C., & Petersen, M. (2020, March 23). The emotional path to action: Empathy promotes physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • KUSZ, Halina; KAKARALA, Radhika; CHAMPINE, Andrew. Lessons learned about empathy during our interview seasons. Medical Teacher, [s.l.], p. 1-3, 6 set. 2019. Informa UK Limited.
  • Lunn, P. D., Belton, C. A., Lavin, C., McGowan, F. P., Timmons, S., & Robertson, D. A. (2020). Using Behavioral Science to help fight the Coronavirus. Journal of Behavioral Public Administration3(1).

About the author

Narottam Sócrates Garcia Chumpitaz is a student of the fifth semester of Medicine of the Federal University of Roraima (UFRR). He is a member of IFMSA Brazil and local coordinator who has worked in many voluntary activities involving human rights and vulnerable populations, as well as educational, welcoming programs for risk populations. As a constant Yoga practitioner, he believes in the therapeutic power of Yoga to strengthen mind-body connections, through finding an internal source of peace and reaching a better balanced life, as much as possible. This is the key-point to prevent some of the outcomes caused by COVID-19 scenery, such as excessive concernment, anxiety and fear, from generating disturbances in individual psychological health.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This entrepreneur is helping farmers get food to consumers during lockdown

Switzerland has the most highly skilled workers in the world. This is why

These are the countries best prepared for health emergencies

The essence of care is cosmopolitan

Call to revitalize ‘language of the ancestors’ for survival of future generations: Indigenous chief

Mental Health: Role of the individual for their well-being in the pandemic

‘Fire-fighting approach’ to humanitarian aid ‘not sustainable’: Deputy UN chief

Black babies more likely to survive when cared for by Black doctors, suggests new study

EU Commission spends billions without achieving targets

“The Arctic climate matters: to what degree?”, a Sting Exclusive co-authored by UN Environment’s Jan Dusik and Slava Fetisov

EU-Vietnam free trade deal gets green light in trade committee

Here are five things to know about the future of being human

UN health agency spotlights stalled effort to close health divide across Europe, in new report

IMF v Germany: Eurogroup keeps the fight under control

European Junior Enterprise Network – Ready to take the Step Into the Future?

Here’s what I learned at Davos 2020

Yesterday’s “jokes” and sarcasm by Digital Single Market’s Vice President Ansip on EU member states’ right to protect their telco markets

We need to talk about integration after migration. Here are four ways we can improve it

UN human rights chief fears world has grown numb to Syrian carnage

Health is nothing but the main consequence of climate change

Financial abuse of elderly ‘rampant, but invisible’, says UN expert

Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

Reducing disaster risk is a good investment, and ‘the right thing to do’, says Guterres

5 priorities for leaders in the new reality of COVID-19

How the United States can win back its manufacturing mojo

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

iSting: Change Europe with your Writing

Council Presidency: Floundering with the EU 2014 budget

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

Workplace risks: Final vote on protection from carcinogens, including diesel fumes

Copyright: MEPs update rules for the digital age

UN chief calls for ‘united front’ against anti-Semitism after US synagogue mass-shooting

Eurogroup asked to reduce public debts of its member states

Top UN political official updates Security Council on Iran nuclear deal

I created a class to teach zero waste. It turned into so much more

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

‘Amid stormy global seas, UN charter remains our moral anchor’, says Guterres on United Nations Day

ECB’s €1.14 trillion again unifies Eurozone; Germany approves sovereign debt risks to be pooled

Grexit no longer a threat but how to manage a “tutti frutti” government if not with fear?

‘Our goal is to democratize the air.’ How aerial transportation will shape cities of the future

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

Israeli security forces’ response to Gaza protests ‘a recipe for more bloodshed’, says UN expert

Environmental Implementation Review: Commission helps Member States to better apply EU environment rules to protect citizens and enhance their quality of life

Yemen ceasefire deal: ‘Potential’ now to restore humanitarian lifeline to millions

AI can wreak havoc if left unchecked by humans

Celebrating Gaston Ramon – the vet who discovered vaccinology’s secret weapon

2 trillion drinks containers are made every year – so where do they go?

E-cigarettes are killing us softly with their vapor

Business is a crucial partner in solving the mental health challenge

The Ultimate Career Choice: General Practice Specialist

State aid: Commission approves German scheme for very high capacity broadband networks in Bavaria

These airports are now opening their doors to non-fliers

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

Why do thousands of migrants need to be drowned for Brussels to wake up?

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

There are 3 barriers blocking good menstrual hygiene for all women. Here’s how we overcome them

Denmark’s last circus elephants are retiring – here’s what might take their place

Tax havens cost governments $200 billion a year. It’s time to change the way global tax works

This AI can predict your personality just by looking at your eyes

Here’s how we reboot digital trade for the 21st century

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s