Compassion Is a Necessity and an Individual and Collective Responsibility; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

Document Type: Commentary

Author

Harvard Medical School & The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, Boston, MA, USA

Abstract

Compassion is a complex process that is innate, determined in part by individual traits, and modulated by a myriad of conscious and unconscious factors, immediate context, social structures and expectations, and organizational “culture.” Compassion is an ethical foundation of healthcare and a widely shared value; it is not an optional luxury in the healing process. While the interrelations between individual motivation and social structure are complex, we can choose to act individually and collectively to remove barriers to the innate compassion that most healthcare professionals bring to their work. Doing so will reduce professional burnout, improve the well-being of the healthcare workforce, and facilitate our efforts to achieve the triple aim of improving patients’ experiences of care and health while lowering costs.

Keywords

Main Subjects


  1. American Medical Association (AMA). Principles of Medical Ethics. http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/principles-medical-ethics.page. Accessed May 6, 2015.
  2. American Nurses Association (ANA). Code of Ethics. http://www.nursingworld.org/Mobile/Code-of-Ethics. Accessed May 6, 2015.
  3. American Pharmacists Association (APhA). Code of Ethics. http://www.nursingworld.org/Mobile/Code-of-Ethics. Accessed May 6, 2015.
  4. Fotaki M. Why and how is compassion necessary to provide good quality healthcare? Int J Health Policy Manag. 2015;4(4):199-201. doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2015.66
  5. Wilkinson E. UK NHS staff: stressed, exhausted, burnt out. Lancet. 2015;385:841-842. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(15)60470-6
  6. Maslach C, Jackson SE. The measurement of experienced burnout.  J Organ Behav. 1981;2(2):99-113. doi:10.1002/job.4030020205
  7. Bodenheimer T, Sinsky C. From triple to quadruple aim: care of the patient requires care of the provider. Ann Fam Med. 2014;12:573-576. doi:10.1370/afm.1713
  8. Lown BA. Toward more compassionate healthcare systems: Comment on "Enabling compassionate healthcare: perils, prospects and perspectives". Int J Health Policy Manag. 2014;2(4):199-200. doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2014.41
  9. Lown BA. Seven guiding commitments: Making the U.S. healthcare system more compassionate. Journal of Patient Experience. 2014;1:6-15.
  10. Goetz JL, Keltner D, Simon-Thomas E. Compassion: an evolutionary analysis and empirical review. Psychol Bull. 2010;136(3):351-374. doi:10.1037/a0018807
  11. Decety J, Ickes W. The Social neuroscience of Empathy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.
  12. Zaki J, Ochsner KN. The neuroscience of empathy: progress, pitfalls and promise. Nat Neurosci. 2012;15:675-680. doi:10.1038/nn.3085
  13. Klimecki OM, Leiberg S, Lamm C, Singer T. Functional neural plasticity and associated changes in positive affect after compassion training. Cereb Cortex. 2013;23:1552-1561. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhs142
  14. Weng HY, Fox AS, Shackman AJ, et al. Compassion training alters altruism and neural responses to suffering. Psychol Sci. 2013;24:1171-1180.
  15. Lown B, McIntosh S, McGuinn K, et al. Advancing compassionate, person- and family-centered care through interprofessional education for collaborative practice. compassionate, collaborative care model and framework. http://www.theschwartzcenter.org/media/Triple-C-Conference-Framework-Tables_FINAL.pdf. Accessed May 11, 2015.
  16. Frankl VE. Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy.  New York: Simon and Schuster; 1984.