Exploring compassion: implications for contemporary nursing (Part 1)

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59 Citations (Scopus)


The origin of compassion is firmly rooted in religious ideologies. In 19th century Great Britain, Christianity was the prominent religion and scripture advocated that followers should always be compassionate in their deeds and actions. Florence Nightingale was a Christian and translated her ideals into the characterization of the professional nurse. The image of the ministering angel, performing the work of God, was perpetuated for some time. However, as the profession of nursing advanced to develop evidence-based practice, some of the ethos of the compassionate nursing character was seemingly lost in favour of technical skills. This is supported by evidence suggesting that nurses have a decreased affinity with the ethos of altruism. Recent reports have highlighted negative patient experiences which reflect a clear lack of compassionate nursing care. This has led to a variety of documents re-endorsing the concept of compassion as a core and fundamental nursing value. This has raised several issues for nursing practice which require due consideration if the profession is to restore the image of the compassionate nurse, technically skilled and clinically effective, equipped with the appropriate skills, knowledge, values and attitudes to fulfil the pledges to respond to patients with humanity and kindness and to deliver high quality compassionate care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-164
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2012


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