Healthcare providers perspectives on compassion training: a grounded theory study

Abstract Background There is little concrete guidance on how to train current and future healthcare providers (HCPs) in the core competency of compassion. This study was undertaken using Straussian grounded theory to address the question: “What are healthcare providers’ perspectives on training current and future HCPs in compassion?” Methods Fifty-seven HCPs working in palliative care participated in this study, beginning with focus groups with frontline HCPs (n = 35), followed by one-on-one interviews with HCPs who were considered by their peers to be skilled in providing compassion (n = 15, three of whom also participated in the initial focus groups), and end of study focus groups with study participants (n = 5) and knowledge users (n = 10). Results Study participants largely agreed that compassionate behaviours can be taught, and these behaviours are distinct from the emotional response of compassion. They noted that while learners can develop greater compassion through training, their ability to do so varies depending on the innate qualities they possess prior to training. Participants identified three facets of an effective compassion training program: self-awareness, experiential learning and effective and affective communication skills. Participants also noted that healthcare faculties, facilities and organizations play an important role in creating compassionate practice settings and sustaining HCPs in their delivery of compassion. Conclusions Providing compassion has become a core expectation of healthcare and a hallmark of quality palliative care. This study provides guidance on the importance, core components and teaching methods of compassion training from the perspectives of those who aim to provide it—Healthcare Providers—serving as a foundation for future evidence based educational interventions.
BMC Medical Education. 2020 Aug 05;20(1):249