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Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2018 Dec;12(4):472-479. doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000393.

Compassion in palliative care: a review.

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Nirakara Institute, Madrid.
New Health Foundation, Sevilla, Spain.



Compassion has been recognized as a key aspect of high-quality healthcare, particularly in palliative care. This article provides a general review of the current understanding of compassion in palliative care and summarizes emergent compassionate initiatives in palliative care at three interdependent levels: compassion for patients, compassion in healthcare professionals, and compassionate communities at the end of life.


Compassion is a constructive response to suffering that enhances treatment outcomes, fosters the dignity of the recipient, and provides self-care for the giver. Patients and healthcare professionals value compassion and perceive a general lack of compassion in healthcare systems. Compassion for patients and for professionals' self-care can be trained and implemented top-down (institutional policies) and bottom-up (compassion training). 'Compassionate communities' is an important emerging movement that complements regular healthcare and social services with a community-level approach to offer compassionate care for people at the end of life.


Compassion can be enhanced through diverse methodologies at the organizational, professional, and community levels. This enhancement of compassion has the potential to improve quality of palliative care treatments, enhance healthcare providers' satisfaction, and reduce healthcare costs.

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