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‘Compassion practices’ improve nurses’ well-being, study shows

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Richmond, VA — Recognizing nurses for their compassionate care can boost morale and reduce their emotional stress, a recent study from Virginia Commonwealth University suggests.

Researchers analyzed data provided by 177 nurses at 30 non-pediatric ambulatory VCU clinics, as well as experience ratings from 3,525 adults treated at the clinics. The researchers found that the use of “compassion practices” – gestures such as issuing awards for sympathetic caregiving and offering workplace support – improved nurses’ well-being as well as patients’ perception of care.

“When ambulatory clinics compassionately support their staff and reward them for showing compassion to patients, family members and colleagues, two things happen,” Laura McClelland, Ph.D., lead author and VCU assistant professor in the Department of Health Administration, said in a Jan. 11 press release. “First, nurses report less emotional exhaustion and higher psychological vitality – feelings of vigor, alertness and energy. Second, patients report that they experienced higher levels of caring and concern shown to them, and they rate the clinic higher, too.”

The researchers say compassion practices can be a constant in the work environment, independent of a clinic’s resources or makeup.

“We need to make sure we are taking care of our staff, because if we don’t take care of our staff, they are not going to be able to take good care of our patients,” McClelland said in the release.

The study was published in the January issue of the journal Medical Care.

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