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Compassion means ‘to suffer with’ from the Latin com (together with) and pati (to suffer) (Schantz, 2007). It has its origins in religious ideologies (Armstrong, 2007) and is a central focus of many spiritual and ethical traditions, from Buddhism to Confuscianism to Christianity (Goetz et al, 2010). Definitions of compassion may include kindness, empathy and being moved by another’s suffering, which evokes a desire to help that person. However, a desire to help is not sufficient and compassion entails action to alleviate suffering through care that is safe and effective, as well as kind and supportive. There are many definitions of compassion. This is one: ‘Compassionate nursing practice can be defined as comprising: the enactment of personal and professional values through behaviour that demonstrates the emotional dimension of caring about another person and the practical dimension of caring for them, in a way to recognise and alleviate their suffering.’ (Curtis, 2013a: 3)


Armstrong, K. (2011) Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. London: The Bodley Head Curtis, K. (2013) 21st Century challenges faced by nursing faculty in educating for compassionate practice: Embodied interpretation of phenomenological data. Nurse Education Today, 33: 746-750 Goetz, J. L., Keltner, D. and Simon-Thomas, E. (2010) Compassion: An Evolutionary Analysis and Empirical Review, Psychological Bulletin, 136(3): 351-374 Schantz, M.L. (2007) Compassion: A concept analysis. Nursing Forum, 42(2): 48-55

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