Implementing Peer Tutoring for the Development of Empathy in Nursing Education


  • David Durán Gisbert Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Anabel Vázquez Rivas Universitat de Barcelona



education, nursing, empathy, learning, peer group, psychology, students, nursing


Objective. This research sets out the effects of a training method based on peer tutoring, aimed at developing empathy among nursing students at the University of Barcelona (Spain).

Methods. After initial training, students are matched in pairs with similar level of empathy, exchanging the role of tutor and tutee in every session, during 12 sessions. Before the session, the tutor prepares the activities to work with his or her tutee, following this structure: exploration of prior knowledge, explanation, practical activities, feedback, and reflection. Jefferson Scale of Empathy was administered as pre-test and post-test to 76 nursing students, 40 in the intervention group, and 36 in the comparison group. Following a mixed-methods sequential explanatory design, a quantitative study (a quasi-experimental design with a comparison group) was combined with a qualitative study (interaction analysis of the 12 videotaped sessions).

Results. The results revealed statistically significant improvements in empathy in the intervention group. Subsequent analysis of the peer tutoring interaction highlighted the specific actions that had resulted in these improvements and generated a context in which the tutee was able to understand complex concepts, while enabling both students to participate, reflect and discuss.

Conclusion. Peer tutoring is an effective method for the development of empathy in nursing students.

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Author Biographies

David Durán Gisbert , Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Educational Psycologist. Ph.D. Associate Professor, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. Email: 

Anabel Vázquez Rivas , Universitat de Barcelona

Nurse. Ph.D. Adjunct Professor, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. Email:


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How to Cite

Durán Gisbert , D. ., & Vázquez Rivas , A. . (2021). Implementing Peer Tutoring for the Development of Empathy in Nursing Education. Investigación Y Educación En Enfermería, 39(2).