The effect of organizational and personal variables on the ability to practice compassionately
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BACKGROUND: Nursing governing bodies assert that compassion is essential to nursing practice. Despite the relevance compassion has in nursing, and ample theoretical literature, until now, there has been little empirical work conducted to examine the nature of compassion in nursing and how the expression of compassion in nursing practice may be affected. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to examine the personal and organizational variables that might affect nurses' ability to practice with compassion. DESIGN: A predictive, non-experimental cross-sectional design was used to explore the relationships amongst the variables of structural and psychological empowerment, inter-professional collaboration, and compassion. PARTICIPANTS: 191 registered nurses of any age, with any length of experience, in any inpatient or outpatient unit, in any hospital (community, long term care, and teaching) with any education level participated in the study. DATA COLLECTION: Data were collected via surveys sent to randomly chosen registrants from the College of Nurses of Ontario (Canada) Registry. RESULTS: Statistically significant correlations were found amongst all the variables. A simple linear regression was calculated to predict the effect of the independent variables of structural empowerment, psychological empowerment, and inter-professional collaboration on the dependent variable compassion. All three had a statistically significant positive relationship to the dependent variable compassion. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Each of structural empowerment, psychological empowerment, and inter-professional collaboration has been discussed in the literature as a possible predictor of compassion. This study shows that that is the case. This is critical information for both organizations and individual nurses to have, as currently there is an inclination to blame nurses for having insufficient compassion rather than considering there may also be environmental and structural reasons for nurses being unable to practice with compassion. With this study as a beginning, future studies could test for models of how these variables interact in order to make more informed decisions about how to enable compassionate nursing practice. These strategies as it turns out, may be both personal and environmental. This study is a step towards the building of nursing compassion literacy.
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