How does it really feel to be in my shoes? Patients' experiences of compassion within nursing care and their perceptions of developing compassionate nurses
Article first published online: 31 JAN 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Journal of Clinical Nursing Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Journal of Clinical Nursing
Volume 23, Issue 19-20, pages 2790–2799, October 2014
How to Cite
Bramley, L. and Matiti, M. (2014), How does it really feel to be in my shoes? Patients' experiences of compassion within nursing care and their perceptions of developing compassionate nurses. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23: 2790–2799. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12537
- Issue published online: 22 SEP 2014
- Article first published online: 31 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 NOV 2013
- nursing care;
- patients' experience;
- patients' perceptions
Aims and objectives
To understand how patients experience compassion within nursing care and explore their perceptions of developing compassionate nurses.
Compassion is a fundamental part of nursing care. Individually, nurses have a duty of care to show compassion; an absence can lead to patients feeling devalued and lacking in emotional support. Despite recent media attention, primary research around patients' experiences and perceptions of compassion in practice and its development in nursing care remains in short supply.
A qualitative exploratory descriptive approach.
In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 10 patients in a large teaching hospital in the United Kingdom. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic networks were used in analysis.
Three overarching themes emerged from the data: (1) what is compassion: knowing me and giving me your time, (2) understanding the impact of compassion: how it feels in my shoes and (3) being more compassionate: communication and the essence of nursing.
Compassion from nursing staff is broadly aligned with actions of care, which can often take time. However, for some, this element of time needs only be fleeting to establish a compassionate connection. Despite recent calls for the increased focus compassion at all levels in nurse education and training, patient opinion was divided on whether it can be taught or remains a moral virtue. Gaining understanding of the impact of uncompassionate actions presents an opportunity to change both individual and cultural behaviours.
Relevance to clinical practice
It comes as a timely reminder that the smallest of nursing actions can convey compassion. Introducing vignettes of real-life situations from the lens of the patient to engage practitioners in collaborative learning in the context of compassionate nursing could offer opportunities for valuable and legitimate professional development.