Nurses can suffer because of the requirement to display compassion at all times. That is the finding of research being presented Wednesday 8 January 2014, by Professor Gail Kinman and Sandra Leggetter from the University of Bedfordshire at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology in Brighton.
The researchers asked a sample of 351 nurses to complete a serious of online questionnaires about their lives in work and beyond. The results showed that nurses who were required to display higher levels of compassion were more likely to feel emotionally exhausted and to experience in their working lives and life outside work. Nurses who had higher levels of empathy felt emotionally exhausted too.
Professor Kinman says: "Displaying compassion and empathy is a fundamental requirement in nursing and is valued by patients and their families. However, this 'emotional labour' can affect their wellbeing.
"Our research found some support for the idea that emotional support can help break this relationship. 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."
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