English title dissertation Compassion in Nursing Practice. A guiding principle for quality of care.
Name PhD (surname first) Cingel C.J.M. van der
Doctor is (has been) nurse
Date of promotion 07/06/2012
University Erasmus Rotterdam
Promotores prof. dr. L.M. Huijer
Linkedin-account linkedin.com
Researchgate-url researchgate.net
Abstract (English)

Compassion is a phenomenon that increasingly receives attention in the healthcare sector. The Charter for Compassion for example, an initiative of Karen Armstrong, writer and literary scientist, has touched a chord with professionals in healthcare. Compassion for Care, the movement that started to use the idea of the Charter in healthcare in the Netherlands, is aiming to bring back compassion in healthcare organisations. Obviously, there is a need for compassion as a guiding principle for healthcare professionals’ practice. But what is compassion and what is the meaning of compassion for nursing practice? These are the central questions in this thesis. These questions will be related to the on-going debate about quality of care. In the current debate two seemingly opposing views on the quality of nursing care are visible. One view defines quality of care mainly as care supported by the best scientific evidence and believes the performance care should be judged on the basis of that evidence as well. The other view states that good care takes place within the nurse-patient relationship in which the nurse performs professional care based on intuitive knowing. Can compassion be the (missing) link between these views? This study aims to distinguish compassion from other concepts such as empathy and pity, and to position compassion in nursing care as an emotion or intelligent judgement of value according to Nussbaum. Therefore, in this thesis compassion as a phenomenon is being studied in several ways. First, a literature review on compassion in philosophic literature, health care sciences and other relevant disciplines is performed. Secondly, compassion is being studied within descriptions of nursing as a modern profession. How often since Nightingale and in what way is compassion, in a tentative definition, found in descriptions of the professional domain? Thirdly, compassion is being studied empirically. In a qualitative study nurses and older persons with a chronic disease are being interviewed individually as well as in groups. In the individual interviews questions concerned the nature and significance of compassion, while compassion in the nurse/patient relationship was the focus of attention in group interviews attended by both nurses and patients. Compassion is, because of this study, to be interpreted as a phenomenon of moral relevance for the health care sector. Compassion offers nurses and other caretaking professionals a real alternative for the performance of good care.

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