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Staff experiences of compassion on acute inpatient wards

Pem, S. (2021). Staff experiences of compassion on acute inpatient wards. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis features aspects of the theory and practice within the discipline of Counselling Psychology, with a focus on ‘interpersonal relationships’ which I believe connects the entire portfolio. It represents my engagement with the two contrasting epistemological positions within Counselling Psychology: the subjective-reflective-practitioner position and the empirical-scientist position. The following pieces of clinical, research, and academic work of which will be outlined, attempt to demonstrate a prioritization of the phenomenological experience of an individual whilst critically engaging with the medical model, and well as my own reflective stance. Included is the evolution and development of the portfolio, the themes permeating between them, as well as issues related to the theory and practice of Counselling Psychology, that I have encountered, which have consolidated my identity as Counselling

There has been a growing body of research focusing on the efficacy of the compassionate mind approach and its integration into mental health services. However, there has been limited research exploring its applicability for inpatient service users, and less so for staff nurses working in this area of mental health. This study presents the findings from a larger qualitative study that explored staff nurses’ experiences of compassion in an acute inpatient setting in order to get a baseline understanding of how they experience compassion in their workplace. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews with seven staff nurses who were currently in employment and analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The findings
yielded two main themes comprising of ‘Perspectives of Compassion’ and ‘The Conflict Within’, and suggested that staff nurses oscillated in what, compassion is in general, what they perceive it to be, and how they experience it in their work. Nurse participants appeared to have a desire to engage in care and compassion, towards patients, as they understand it; but that this desired flow of compassion is modulated against the backdrop of when to engage, disengage and when to compassionately come back. The complexity of their experience appeared to be influenced by individual, professional, interpersonal, and psychological factors within the context of an acute inpatient ward. The results were contextualised using theoretical frameworks from the Compassion Mind Approach and Psychological Flexibility. The findings could add to the evidence base underpinning staff training programmes and shed light on how compassion can be integrated in the inpatient system as a whole.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
Date available in CRO: 29 Apr 2021 16:04
Date deposited: 29 April 2021
Text - Accepted Version
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