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concept of empathy, empathy, ethnography, nurse-patient relationship, theory building



  1. Wiseman, Theresa PhD, PGDEd, BSc(Hons)Psych, RGN, RNCT


This article proposes a new holistic conceptualization of empathy for nursing practice that allows different aspects of the literature to be understood. This study is based on the data of a doctoral study exploring the nature of empathy on an oncology ward. The findings revealed that empathy is not a single phenomenon. Four different forms of empathy were identified, namely, empathy as an incident, empathy as a way of knowing, empathy as a process, and empathy as a way of being. These different forms of empathy can be understood in terms of a continuum of empathy development and suggest a new way of conceptualizing empathy that can be depicted diagrammatically.