Does self-compassion mitigate the relationship between burnout and barriers to compassion? A cross-sectional quantitative study of 799 nurses.

Research paper by Vinayak V Dev, Antonio T AT Fernando, Anecita Gigi AG Lim, Nathan S NS Consedine

Indexed on: 09 Mar '18Published on: 09 Mar '18Published in: International Journal of Nursing Studies


Burnout has numerous negative consequences for nurses, potentially impairing their ability to deliver compassionate patient care. However, the association between burnout and compassion and, more specifically, barriers to compassion in medicine is unclear. This article evaluates the associations between burnout and barriers to compassion and examines whether dispositional self-compassion might mitigate this association. Consistent with prior work, the authors expected greater burnout to predict greater barriers to compassion. We also expected self-compassion - the ability to be kind to the self during times of distress - to weaken the association between burnout and barriers to compassion among nurses. Registered nurses working in New Zealand medical contexts were recruited using non-random convenience sampling. Following consent, 799 valid participants completed a cross-sectional survey including the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory, the Barriers to Physician Compassion scale, and a measure of dispositional self-compassion. As expected, greater burnout predicted greater barriers to compassion while self-compassion predicted fewer barriers. However, self-compassion mitigated the association between burnout and burnout related barriers to compassion (but not other barriers). The interaction suggested that suggested that the association was stronger (rather than weaker) among those with greater self-compassion. Understanding the lack of compassion and the effects of burnout in patient care are priorities in health. This report extends evidence on the association between burnout and compassion-fatigue to show that burnout also predicts the experience of specific barriers to compassion. While self-compassion predicted lower burnout and barriers, it may not necessarily reduce the extent to which burnout contributes to the experience of barriers to compassion in medicine. Implications for understanding how burnout manifests in barriers to clinical compassion, interventions and professional training, and future directions in nursing are discussed. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.