Delivering compassionate care in intensive care units: Nurses' perceptions of enablers and barriers.

Research paper by Jenny J Jones, Sarah S Winch, Petra P Strube, Marion M Mitchell, Amanda A Henderson

Indexed on: 12 Jul '16Published on: 12 Jul '16Published in: Journal of Advanced Nursing


Compassion is core to nursing practice. Nurses' expression of compassion is a complex interaction informed by the nurse, the patient and the practice environment.To identify personal, professional and organizational factors intensive care nurses, in a major metropolitan facility in Australia, identified as enabling or disabling them to be compassionate.Intensive care nurses (n=171) reflected on their experiences during 'compassion cafés' conducted in 2015.Qualitative, reflexive methods were used to explore ICU nurses' perceptions of enablers and barriers. Nurses documented their perceptions, which were thematically analysed. Meanings were subsequently verified with participants.The findings identified multiple factors both inside and outside the workplace that constrained or enabled nurses' ability to be compassionate. Two main factors inside the workplace were culture of the team, in particular, support from colleagues and congruency in work practices and decision-making, and connections with patients and families. Outside the workplace nurses were influenced by their values about care and lifestyle factors such as family demands.Nurses capacity to be compassionate is a complex interplay between nursing knowledge and expectations, organizational structures and lifestyle factors.The responsibility for 'compassionate' care is a shared one. Nurses need to be cognizant of factors that are enabling or inhibiting their ability to be compassionate. Health care leaders have a responsibility to provide structural support (staffing, education, space) that assist nurses to deliver compassionate care and where appropriate cater for nurses needs so that they are better able to be compassionate. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.