Background: Compassionate care has been introduced as the main part of the nurses' identity and a most valuable asset. The characteristics of the work environment may facilitate or hinder the provision of compassionate nursing care.
Aims: Considering the importance of compassionate care in intensive care units where the patients experience many sufferings, this study aimed to assess the relationship between the work environment and nurses' compassion in the intensive care units.
Methods: In this multicenter cross-sectional study, a total of 235 nurses were selected by random sampling method from the intensive care units. Data were collected by demographic questionnaire, the Sussex-Oxford Compassion for Others Scale (SOCS-O) and the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index (PES-NWI). The collected data were analyzed by SPSS (ver.21) software using ANOVA, independent t-test and Pearson correlation coefficient.
Results: The mean total score of nurses' compassion was 72.42±9.57. The results showed that the highest score was related to the subscale of understanding the universality of suffering (15.16±2.62) and the lowest score belonged to the subscale of "tolerating uncomfortable feelings" (14.14±2.18). There was a significant and inverse relationship between the patients per nurse’s ratio and the mean score of nurses' compassion (P<0.05). Moreover, Pearson correlation coefficient showed that the mean total score of the nursing work index had a significant positive relationship with the mean score of the compassion for others (r= 0.16, P= 0.016).
Conclusions: The results of the present study showed that the working environment of nurses in intensive care units could affect the nurses' compassion toward others. According to the results, the nursing work index had a positive correlation with the mean score of nurses' compassion. Therefore, health care managers and leaders should pay more attention to the promotion of nurses' working environments and they should remove the barriers of compassionate care delivery.
Audience Take Away Notes:
• The importance of work environment for cultivation of compassionate care in clinical practice
• Good working environment of nurses is associated with higher nurses’ compassion toward others
• Nurse managers could play a main role in establishing healthy work environments and supporting nurses for developing compassionate care. For this, they should try to remove the organizational barriers such as heavy work load and paper works
• Nurses should improve their personal ability for showing compassion toward others
• It is suggested to compare the nurses’ compassion between nurses working in the intensive care units with nurses working in other clinical contexts in the future studies