Compassion in care: a qualitative study of older people with a chronic disease and nurses

Nurs Ethics. 2011 Sep;18(5):672-85. doi: 10.1177/0969733011403556. Epub 2011 Jun 3.


This article describes compassion as perceived within the relationship between nurses and older persons with a chronic disease. The aim of the study is to understand the benefit of compassion for nursing practice within the context of long-term care. The design of the study involves a qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with nurses and patients in three different care-settings. Results show the nature of compassion in seven dimensions: attentiveness, listening, confronting, involvement, helping, presence and understanding. Analysis of the data also shows in what way opinions of participants relate to issues raised in a previous literature study, for example the difference between pity and compassion. The conclusion states that compassion is a valuable process which motivates patients as well as nurses to cooperate in achieving relevant outcomes of care. The discussion involves some methodological issues. For one thing, further confirmation of the dimensions found is recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / nursing*
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Nursing*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care
  • Male
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research