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Issues » 2018/4 - ERIS Journal - Summer 2018 »

Outcomes from a Compassion Training Intervention for Health Care Workers

Debbie Ling, John Olver, Melissa Petrakis

OBJECTIVES: To investigate how compassion training may help support health care workers do their jobs well, maintaining positive states of mind without being overloaded by empathic distress. THEORETICAL BASE: Recent findings from neuroscience suggest that compassion is a positive mind state and can be trained. Compassion is found to be different from empathy which, unlike compassion, can lead to empathic distress and burnout. This finding has led to the development of a range of compassion training programs. METHODS: A single session compassion training intervention including: (i) information defining compassion, (ii) research information from neuroscience demonstrating that compassion is a positive mind state and different from to empathy, (iii) scenarios emphasising common humanity and (iv) a slogan for health care workers to use to help them hold a compassionate stance towards their patients. OUTCOMES: The compassion training intervention was delivered to 100 health care workers at a major inner city private healthcare organisation in Australia in October 2017. A survey administered post-training session indicates that the health care workers found the compassion training useful and further training would be beneficial. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: As a result of the positive findings from this research, a web-based compassion training module is being developed for all staff at the healthcare organisation.

compassion, training intervention, hospital, health care workers, empathic distress, burnout

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