A study suggests that insomnia decreases empathy in healthcare workers and may lead to adverse clinical outcomes and medical errors.

Results show that subjects with an Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) of greater than 8, scored significantly higher across all four subscales of empathy.

“Insomnia affects empathy in health care workers which can lead to adverse clinical outcomes,” says lead author Venkatesh Basappa Krishnamurthy, MD, assistant professor, Sleep Research and Treatment Center, department of psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa, in a release.

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and was presented  June 8 at SLEEP 2015.

The study group comprised 97 subjects including but not limited to physicians, residents, nurses, nurse assistants, pharmacists, radiology technicians, lab technicians were recruited from Henry Ford Health System. Empathy was measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) across four subscales—fantasy, perspective-taking, empathic concern, and personal distress. Insomnia was measured using the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI).