Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Jane M. Georges, RN, PhD, Chairperson; Ann M. Mayo, RN, DNSc; Donna L. Agan, EdD


compassionate care, nurse-patient relationship, nursing, patients, Phenomenology, spirituality


Professional mandates call for nurses to respond with compassion (e.g., American Nurses Association [ANA] Code of Ethics, International Council of Nurses [ICN]) and countless hospital mission and vision statements prominently display compassion as their fundamental purpose. As a component of healthcare and nursing models, however, defining characteristics and standards are inconsistent. Compassion as a means of establishing a connection on a spiritual level abounds in the literature (Buck, 2006; Grant, 2004; O'Brien, 2008; Schultz et al., 2007) and is documented as a nursing requirement (e.g., ANA, ICN); however, it remains virtually uncharted from the lens of the patient. Through interpretive existential-phenomenological inquiry, the researcher endeavored to portray the attributes of compassionate care listening to the voice of the patient. In a hospital outpatient infusion clinic, 26 participants elaborated on personal occurrences characterizing one or more essential attribute of compassionate nursing care. Audiotaped interviews and transcripts were analyzed extensively until seven attributes emerged: personal connection, genuine caring, listen-to-me, competent practitioner, family-like, spiritual connotations, and spreading cheer. An eighth attribute, contrary patient experiences, enhanced the understanding of this phenomenon. This study substantiated patients' yearning for compassionate nursing care. The patients' perspective of compassion reveals a myriad of opportunities for the nursing profession. Possibilities include the identification and evaluation of potential nursing students and new hires through a compassionate care assessment method. Establishing compassion as a core competency and expectation may be accomplished through individualized care plans, the sharing of patient stories, and evaluating performance based on one's ability to promulgate compassionate care into practice. Bridging the gap in nursing education and praxis through qualitative and quantitative research may enrich nursing professional mandates and assist institutions in actualizing their mission statements.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons