Compassion is taking its toll on nurses

It is a prerequisite of their job that nurses are compassionate and caring towards patients. However, this emotional connection could be taking its toll on the wellbeing of such professionals, according to new research being presented today (January 8th) at the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference in Brighton.

A team led by Professor Gail Kinman and Sandra Leggetter from the University of Bedfordshire asked 351 nurses to fill in questionnaires about their lives at work and at home.

It was discovered that those who needed to display high levels of compassion and empathy on a daily basis - perhaps including hospice and children's nurses - were more likely to feel emotionally exhausted than their counterparts who could be more relaxed.

This detrimental effect on their wellbeing also spilt over into their free time, which could cause problems at home and strain relationships with family members.

"Further research is needed to develop interventions that will help nurses learn to deliver compassionate, patient-centred care while maintaining the emotional boundaries that will protect their own wellbeing," said Professor Kinman.

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