Compassion in nursing: exploring the perceptions of students and academics

Collette Straughair, Alison Machin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
JournalNursing Standard
Issue number7
Early online date14 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


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