What works for whom in compassion training programs offered to practicing healthcare providers: a realist review

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Sinclair, Shane
Kondejewski, Jane
Jaggi, Priya
Roze des Ordons, Amanda L.
Kassam, Aliya
Hayden, K. A.
Harris, Daranne
Hack, Thomas F.
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Abstract Background Patients and families want their healthcare to be delivered by healthcare providers that are both competent and compassionate. While compassion training has begun to emerge in healthcare education, there may be factors that facilitate or inhibit the uptake and implementation of training into practice. This review identified the attributes that explain the successes and/or failures of compassion training programs offered to practicing healthcare providers. Methods Realist review methodology for knowledge synthesis was used to consider the contexts, mechanisms (resources and reasoning), and outcomes of compassion training for practicing healthcare providers to determine what works, for whom, and in what contexts. Results Two thousand nine hundred ninety-one articles underwent title and abstract screening, 53 articles underwent full text review, and data that contributed to the development of a program theory were extracted from 45 articles. Contexts included the clinical setting, healthcare provider characteristics, current state of the healthcare system, and personal factors relevant to individual healthcare providers. Mechanisms included workplace-based programs and participatory interventions that impacted teaching, learning, and the healthcare organization. Contexts were associated with certain mechanisms to effect change in learners’ attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviors and the clinical process. Conclusions In conclusion this realist review determined that compassion training may engender compassionate healthcare practice if it becomes a key component of the infrastructure and vision of healthcare organizations, engages institutional participation, improves leadership at all levels, adopts a multimodal approach, and uses valid measures to assess outcomes.
BMC Medical Education. 2021 Aug 28;21(1):455