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Empathy Study: Are We Exploiting Nurses’ Willingness to Help?

Nurses are empowered by patients, helping, and their own work community – limited possibilities, low wages, lack of respect, and leadership problems, however, prevent them from successfully managing their work. This data is available in the empathy study conducted by Medikumppani Oy and NayaDaya Inc. in cooperation with the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses (SuPer) and TE Services’ Network of Healthcare and Social Welfare.

Healthcare sustainable development

The study, gaining close to 900 responses, was conducted to reveal the Finnish healthcare professionals’ emotions and the causes behind the emotions in relation to their own work. With the help of science-based empathy analytics, the study showed the impact emotions have on employee behavior, engagement, and resignation.

Among nurses, 38 % expressed only positive emotions toward their own work while 33 % expressed only negative emotions. The respective percentages among doctors were 62 % and 11 %. Polarization of emotions is equally common among nurses and doctors: in both groups 24 % of respondents experience positive and negative emotions toward their work at the same time. Four percent of all respondents expressed no emotions.

The most common emotions nurses feel toward their work are disappointment, interest, and pride. Doctors expressed most often interest, pride, and contentment.

Among nurses, the younger the respondent in question, the more negative the experience seems to be.

Nurses Are not Provided With Sufficient Possibilities to Succeed

Among nurses, the most positive and engaging aspects of work are patients, helping people, coworkers, and own tasks. The patients evoke most often compassion and helping evokes pride. Topics that are polarizing, yet more negative, crippling and cause resignations include the overall perception of own profession as well as the prevailing conditions providing diminished ability to succeed at work. Own profession evokes most often pride, but also regret and disappointment. The idea of succeeding at work most often evokes guilt.

Among nurses, the clearly negative topics ultimately causing resignations are wage levels, workloads, lack of time and respect, poor leadership and decision making as well as personnel resources. Somewhat surprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic itself was indicated with a very weak signal only.

These results vary significantly between the nurses and doctors. Experiences, emotions, and engagement levels are dominated by positive topics in doctors’ work: patients and helping, own profession and the meaning of work, significance and respect, coworkers, own expertise, and interest toward medicine. The only somewhat negative topic was the workload. Covid-19 pandemic was not mentioned at all.

”Everybody has a right to succeed in their own work environment. At nurses’ work, the basic human conditions are not met. Nurses are forced to carry the load of guilt for reasons they have no influence or authority over. Their experiences at work are dominated, among other things, by low wage levels, excessive workload, and lack of respect,” says Chairperson Silja Paavola from the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses (SuPer).

Empathy – a way to sustainably developed healthcare

One step closer to this change is empathy, our ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes. “Through the empathy analytics we understand what strengthens the healthcare industry’s attraction and retention and what, on the other hand, destroys them. Especially, we know where to target our improvement actions. We now need responsible leaders and actions to change the inhuman circumstances, attitudes, and leadership styles both in public and private sectors,” highlights CEO Teija Koskinen from Medikumppani Oy who ordered the study.

”The empathy study brings visually and concretely forth this multidimensional entity and the challenging systemic problem. The results strongly argue for the fact that the significance of work must be kept as the focal point when organizing work. People are not machines – their performance requires having an experience of significance. We must take this seriously if we continuously want workers for the care giving sector in the future,” notes development manager Ville Luukkanen from TE Services’ Network of Healthcare and Social Welfare.

”The study reveals that helping patients and having good relationships with colleagues have a particularly emotionally supporting effect on nurses. On the other hand, there are many drawbacks that weigh the support down having even crippling and alienating effects. The study raises a question: are we, as a society, exploiting the nurses’ willingness to help and their sense of guilt – or are we providing adequate resources for them to succeed in their work and for sustainable development of health care instead?” ponders CEO Timo Järvinen from empathy analytics company NayaDaya Inc.

The Empathy study was carried out by Medikumppani Oy and the empathy analytics company NayaDaya Inc. together with the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses (SuPer) and TE Services’ Network of Healthcare and Social Welfare.

The emotion data was collected from healthcare professionals through an open online questionnaire with the support of cooperation partners during March 8-March 20, 2022. Total of 866 persons, of which 648 were nurses and 110 were doctors, responded to the study. The respondents had a choice of one or two emotions or an option of ’no emotion’[1] to express their experiences. Total of 1508 responses were given.

The NayaDaya® Empathy Analytics™ is based on the scientific theory of emotions[2], research[1], and algorithm[3].

[1] The empathy study method is based on the pre-existing scientific research independently conducted and published by the Geneva Emotion Research Group at the University of Geneva.
[2] Scherer, K.R., Fontaine, J.R.J, & Soriano, C. (2013). Components of Emotional Meaning. Oxford University Press.
[3] A scientific algorithm that predicts positive, engaged, and prosocial behavior, developed by NayaDaya Inc.

More information:

Teija Koskinen, CEO, Medikumppani Oy, tel. +358 40 355 8908,

Timo Järvinen, CEO, NayaDaya Inc., tel. +358 40 505 7745,

Medikumppani Oy, founded in 2003, is one of the most experienced healthcare recruitment agencies in Finland building better work communities by matching and placing the right talent with the right job and supporting candidates along the way. With deep understanding of their clients, keen discernment of human nature, and empathy at the heart of their expertise, Medikumppani persevere in building better work communities in health care, one recruitment at a time. Further information at

Medikumppani Oy is part of Empresaria Group, an international organization specializing in HR and staffing services.

NayaDaya Inc. predicts stakeholder reactions to sustainability in companies and organizations. Sustainability is an increasingly crucial part of employee and customer experiences. Empathy Analytics™, based on emotions, science, and data, 1) reveals what matters to people, 2) predicts reactions, and 3) guides actions and communications. The method is a powerful way to stay up-to-date in an ever-changing world and to build sustainable, profitable growth. Further information at


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