Outcomes from a compassion training Intervention for healthcare workers

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Compassion is a virtue, enshrined in the codes of practice for professions such as social work, nursing and medicine. Compassion is often a core value of healthcare organisations. Recent findings from neuroscience suggest that compassion is a positive mind state and can be trained. Compassion is found to be different from empathy which, unlike compassion, can lead to empathic distress and burnout. There have been a range of compassion training programs developed. This is an emerging area with benefits for healthcare workers and their patients.

AIMS: To investigate how compassion training may help support healthcare workers do their jobs well, maintaining positive states of mind without being overloaded by empathic distress.

METHODS: A single session compassion training intervention was delivered to 100 healthcare workers at Epworth HealthCare, a major not-for-profit private healthcare organisation in Melbourne, Australia in October 2017. The content included: (i) information defining compassion, (ii) research information from neuroscience demonstrating that compassion is a positive mind state and different from to empathy, (iii) scenarios emphasising common humanity and (iv) a slogan for healthcare workers to use, “just like me, this person wishes to be happy and not to suffer”, to help the healthcare workers hold a compassionate stance towards their patients.

RESULTS: A survey was administered post-training session to participants. Respondents rated the compassion training as beneficial and there was strong support for further training. The difference between compassion and empathy was considered important as well as the material on common humanity.

DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: Due to the positive findings from this research, a web-based compassion training module is being developed for all staff at the healthcare organisation. Single session compassion training may be an innovative approach which can assist healthcare workers to maintain resilience and hold compassionate stances in the face of daily examples of human suffering.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
Event9th International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health 2019: Shaping the future - University of York Exhibition Centre, York, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Jul 201926 Jul 2019
Conference number: 9th


Conference9th International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health 2019
Abbreviated titleICSW 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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