Health practitioners and self-compassion

Egan, H., Mantzios, M., & Jackson, C. (2016). Health Practitioners and the Directive Towards Compassionate Healthcare in the UK: Exploring the Need to Educate Health Practitioners on How to be Self-Compassionate and Mindful Alongside Mandating Compassion Towards Patients. Health Professions Education. Online Oct 4, 2016

Concerns have been periodically raised about care that lacks compassion in health care settings. The resulting demands for an increase in consistent compassionate care for patients have frequently failed to acknowledge the potentially detrimental implications for health care professionals including compassion fatigue and a failure to care for oneself.

This communication suggests how mindfulness and self-compassion may advance means of supporting those who care for a living and extends the call for greater compassion to include people working within a contemporary health care setting in the United Kingdom. The potential benefits for both health professionals and patients is implied, and may well help to create a healthier, more authentically compassionate environment for all.

Full text

Social workers taking care of … themselves.

Bloomquist, K. R., et al. (2015). Self-care and Professional Quality of Life: Predictive Factors among MSW Practitioners. Advances in Social Work, 16(2), 292-311. Full text.

ABSTRACT. This study explored the effects of self-care practices and perceptions on positive and negative indicators of professional quality of life, including burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion satisfaction among MSW practitioners. Results reveal that while social workers value and believe self-care is effective in alleviating job-related stress, they engage in self-care on a limited basis. Findings indicate that MSW programs and employers do not teach social workers how to effectively engage in self-care practice. Various domains of self-care practice contribute differently to indicators of professional quality of life.

This study sheds light on the under-studied relationship between social worker self-care and professional quality of life, provides insight into the type of activities practiced and not practiced by MSW practitioners, and identifies gaps between perceived value and effective teaching of self-care. Implications exist for social work educators and employers and the potential to support a healthier, sustainable workforce.

Mindfulness and compassion fatigue in bereavement workers

Thieleman, K., & Cacciatore, J. (2014). Witness to Suffering: Mindfulness and Compassion Fatigue among Traumatic Bereavement Volunteers and Professionals. Social Work, swt044. doi: 10.1093/sw/swt044. First published online January 1, 2014.

From the Abstract: This study used a survey to investigate the relationship between mindfulness and compassion fatigue and compassion among 41 volunteers and professionals at an agency serving the traumatically bereaved.

Compassion fatigue comprises two aspects secondary traumatic stress and burnout. Because prior research suggests that compassion satisfaction may protect against compassion fatigue, the authors hypothesized that (a) mindfulness would be positively correlated with compassion satisfaction, (b) mindfulness would be inversely correlated with compassion fatigue, and (c) there would be differences between respondents with a personal history of traumatic bereavement and those with no such history.

Overall, this sample showed surprisingly high levels of compassion satisfaction and low levels of compassion fatigue, even among respondents thought to be at higher risk of problems due to personal trauma. Implications of these findings are particularly relevant for social workers and other professionals employed in positions in which they encounter trauma and high emotional stress.