Delivering Compassionate Care: the Enablers and Barriers

Document Type

Journal Article


MA Healthcare


Nursing and Midwifery




This article was originally published as: Christiansen, A., O’Brien, M. R., Kirton, J. A., Zubairu, K., & Bray, L. (2015). Delivering compassionate care: the enablers and barriers. British Journal of Nursing, 24(16), 833-837. Original article available here


The importance of providing compassionate care to patients is well established. While compassionate care can be understood as an individual response to others' vulnerability, it is acknowledged that healthcare environments can impact significantly on this aspect of practice. This study sought to explore how health professionals and pre-qualifying healthcare students (HCS) understand compassionate care and factors that hinder or enable them to practice compassionately. The perceptions of health professionals (n=146) and HCS (n=166) registered at a university in Northwest England were explored using mixed methods. This article reports on the data gained from the qualitative interviews and responses to open-text questions from the mainly quantitative questionnaire. The findings are discussed under the following themes: individual and relationship factors that impact on compassionate care practice; organisational factors that impact on the clinical environment and team; and leadership factors that hinder or enable a compassionate care culture. This article argues that there are a number of enabling factors that enhance a culture conducive to providing compassionate care. These include leaders who act as positive role models, good relationships between team members and a focus on staff wellbeing.