To investigate the current state and quality of compassion education interventions offered to health care providers during training or practice, determine how the components of each education intervention map onto the domains of an empirically based clinical model of compassion, and identify the most common approaches to compassion education.
The MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Sociological Abstracts, Web of Science, ERIC, and Education Research Complete databases were searched from inception to March 2020 in this systematic review. Studies that evaluated a compassion education intervention for health care providers or those in training to enhance compassion toward patients and/or families were included. A narrative synthesis of the included studies was performed. The components of each intervention were mapped onto the domains of compassion described in the Patient Compassion Model.
One hundred eight peer-reviewed publications describing 103 interventions were included. Modalities ranged from establishing curricula and interventions in clinical settings to programs that used humanities-based reflective practices, clinical simulation, role modeling, and contemplative practices, with many education interventions adopting a multimodal approach. Most interventions mapped to the virtuous response domain of the Patient Compassion Model; very few mapped to the other domains of this model.
Most interventions were limited as they focused on a single domain of compassion; did not adequately define compassion; were assessed exclusively by self-report; were devoid of a comparator/control group; and did not evaluate retention, sustainability, and translation to clinical practice over time. The authors suggest that compassion education interventions be grounded in an empirically based definition of compassion; use a competency-based approach; employ multimodal teaching methods that address the requisite attitudes, skills, behaviors, and knowledge within the multiple domains of compassion; evaluate learning over time; and incorporate patient, preceptor, and peer evaluations.