We Need More Understanding and Empathy Around Chronic Pain



Mindfulness, Self-Compassion, and Empathy Among Health Care Professionals: A Review of the Literature

Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy

Volume 20, 2014 – Issue 3


The relationship between mindfulness and self-compassion is explored in the health care literature, with a corollary emphasis on reducing stress in health care workers and providing compassionate patient care. Health care professionals are particularly vulnerable to stress overload and compassion fatigue due to an emotionally exhausting environment. Compassion fatigue among caregivers in turn has been associated with less effective delivery of care. Having compassion for others entails self-compassion. In Kristin Neff’s research, self-compassion includes self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and mindfulness. Both mindfulness and self-compassion involve promoting an attitude of curiosity and nonjudgment towards one’s experiences. Research suggests that mindfulness interventions, particularly those with an added lovingkindness component, have the potential to increase self-compassion among health care workers. Enhancing focus on developing self-compassion using MBSR and other mindfulness interventions for health care workers holds promise for reducing perceived stress and increasing effectiveness of clinical care.

The Relationship between Self-compassion and Other-focused Concern among College Undergraduates, Community Adults, and Practicing Meditators

Self and Identity

Volume 12, 2013 – Issue 2

The present study examined the link between self-compassion and concern for the well-being of others. Other-focused concern variables included compassion for humanity, empathetic concern, perspective taking, personal distress, altruism and forgiveness. Participants included 384 college undergraduates, 400 community adults, and 172 practicing meditators. Among all participant groups, higher levels of self-compassion were significantly linked to more perspective taking, less personal distress, and greater forgiveness. Self-compassion was linked to compassion for humanity, empathetic concern, and altruism among community adults and meditators but not college undergraduates. The strength of the association between self-compassion and other-focused concern also varied according to participant group and gender. The strongest links tended to be found among meditators, while women tended to show weaker associations than men.