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An exploration of the concepts of compassion in the care of older people amongst key stakeholders in nursing education: pre-qualifying nursing students, nurse educators and clinical mentors: a qualitative study

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Background: Older people, the focus of this thesis, are amongst those in most need of compassionate care. Compassion, which can be demonstrated in 5 levels is defined as the ability to appreciate and empathise with an appropriate action to ease suffering. Earlier research studies have explored patients’ and/or qualified nurses’ perspectives of compassion in nursing. This study is the first to explore compassion from the nurse educators’ (NEs), clinical mentors’ (CMs) and pre-qualifying nursing students’ (PQNSs) varying perspectives.

Aim: To explore, discuss and evaluate views of compassion in the care of older people amongst nurse educators, pre-qualifying nursing students and clinical mentors.

Methods: A generic qualitative research approach was adopted using purposive sampling to recruit 39 participants (NEs=8, CMs=8 and PQNs=23). Semi-structured interviews yielded data that were analysed using framework analysis and NVivo. Data collection was completed between July 2013 and February 2014.

Findings: Seven themes emerged: role modelling, working practices, care philosophy, clinical leadership, staff attitudes, quality care and nature and nurture. Role modelling was the dominant theme.

Discussion: This study adds to the literature by exploring multiple perspectives. Whilst pre-qualifying nursing students and clinical mentors favoured compassion from the perspective of humanistic role models, nurse educators valued compassion as a means to demonstrate work practices, including competence.

Participants suggest that whilst enhancing quality care, compassion can speed up patients’ recovery. This study proposes that while compassion is difficult to teach, it can be nurtured, provided the individual has an aptitude for compassion in the first place.

Conclusion: These findings show three stakeholders’ perspectives and identify in what circumstances compassion is expected to flourish and when problems are likely to occur. From the accounts of these stakeholders, it is argued that compassionate care should be incorporated within practical sessions in the pre-qualifying curriculum and within care of the older person. In clinical practice, the perspectives on compassionate care identified by this study, can be embedded in its culture at all levels through nurse education and clinical leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Kieron Hatton (Supervisor)
  • Ann Dewey (Supervisor)
  • Carol Pook (External person) (Supervisor)
Award date2017
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