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Compassion in nursing: exploring the perceptions of students and academics

Straughair, Collette; Machin, Alison


Collette Straughair

Alison Machin


Background: Compassion is integral to effective nursing practice, yet there is limited empirical research exploring this concept, particularly from a professional perspective. Aim To advance understanding of compassion from a professional perspective, specifically through the perceptions of students and academics from the fields of adult, child, learning disability and mental health nursing.

Method: A constructivist grounded theory study was undertaken, and a theoretical sampling strategy was used to guide the selection of appropriate participants. A total of 12 nursing students and eight nurse academics were interviewed to explore their perceptions of compassion in nursing between January and August 2018. The interview transcripts were analysed using grounded theory techniques.

Findings: Four categories were identified from the interview data: character for compassion, competence for compassion, culture for compassion, and connections for compassion. These categories were interlinked, with each having the potential to influence the implementation of humanising approaches to care, which participants perceived to be fundamental to compassion.

Conclusion: Compassion is a complex concept that can be influenced by biological, psychological and socio-contextual factors. Further consideration of these factors is required to support nurses to facilitate compassion through humanising approaches to care. The findings of this study advance the existing evidence to inform future policy, practice, education and research.

Keywords: compassion; image of nursing; patient experience; patients; professional; professional issues; research.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jun 14, 2021
Publication Date Jun 30, 2021
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2022
Print ISSN 0029-6570
Publisher RCN Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 7
Pages 45-50
Keywords compassion; image of nursing; patient experience; patients; professional; professional issues; research
Public URL