Compassionate Intention in Nursing

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 3
Words: 610
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor


Patient-healthcare professional communication is one of the most significant elements determining the overall quality of care. Although professional expertise and experience are indispensable in clinical practice, adequate communication with patients is also required to provide high-quality care (1). Numerous studies have shown that quality patient-healthcare professional communication leads to enhanced patient satisfaction, adherence to treatment, and improved health status (2). Medical professionals’ compassionate intention is one of the factors that contribute to better patients’ experience, as they can perceive on verbal and non-verbal levels whether their well-being is genuinely respected and prioritized. Nonetheless, the importance of compassion might be overrated in the light of the negative consequences which its surplus causes.

Compassionate Intention Definition

The compassionate intention is a notion built on sincerity, empathy, and kindness. The notion is at the heart of patient-centered nursing and is closely related to holistic care that considers physical as well as emotional and psychological dimensions (3). Moreover, compassionate intention is a part of many traditional and indigenous healing systems (4). These ancient practices may be right in this aspect since compassionate intention has been demonstrated to improve overall health outcomes (5). Thus, to deliver quality care, a medical worker should show a genuine preoccupation with a patient’s well-being when communicating with them. Nevertheless, to understand what precisely a healthcare professional is supposed to do, a definition is required. Compassionate intention can be described as an attitude characterized by sincere concern for a patient’s health and empathy.

Compassionate Intention Critique

On the other hand, the excessiveness of compassionate intention and empathy might be detrimental in the provision of care. Although many studies demonstrate the positive correlation between compassion and improved health outcomes, a connection between compassion and medical workers’ burnout may also exist (6). Immoderate investment in a patient’s health could lead to emotional and physical exhaustion. Prolonged exposure to others’ pain, misery, and grief could be related to compassion fatigue, depression, and medical errors (7). Emotionality and attachment that compassionate intention might entail negatively correlate with rationality essential for the profession. Furthermore, immoderate empathy can diminish the ability to concentrate and impair judgment (7). The reverse correlation has also been investigated: burnout potentially decreases healthcare professionals’ capacity for empathy and, consequently, compassionate intention (6). Accordingly, despite being widely recognized as beneficial for patients’ health outcomes, the compassionate intention may also necessitate moderation from medical workers’.

Compassionate Intention In Personal Clinical Practice

In my nursing practice, the compassionate intention was of significant use in communicating with critically ill persons. When working with patients with a bad prognosis, genuine care and compassion were unavoidable. Since I currently work as a tissue viability nurse, I commonly face patients’ suffering and grief, particularly when amputation remains the only option. Compassionate intent and empathy are indispensable in communication with such patients. Additionally, from my perspective, compassionate intention also extends to a patient’s family. Almost twenty years ago, working in a neurological unit, I had to take care of a patient suffering from a brain hemorrhage. When communicating with the patient’s family, it seemed vital to provide not only factual information but also emotional support expressed verbally and non-verbally. Yet, performance-driven and protocol-oriented care frequently decreases my empathy when working with patients with better prognoses.


The compassionate intention is a crucial notion for patient-centered and holistic care. High-quality communication and empathy-related to the notion are associated with better patient experience and outcomes. Despite the advantages, excessiveness in this regard can undermine medical professionals’ decision-making and capability to provide care. Continuously witnessing others’ suffering and not dissociating can cause premature burnout and decrease compassion in future practice. Overall, moderation regarding compassionate intention seems to be the optimal choice.


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