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Describing Compassionate Care: The Burn Survivor’s Perspective

Badger, Karen PhD, MSW; Royse, David PhD, MSW

doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e318254d30b
Original Articles

Compassion is vital in burn care. Its delivery could be considered a professional duty and a characteristic of care that affects patient satisfaction. However, the description of compassionate care is underexplored in the burn care literature. This study investigates the concept of compassionate care and how it is described from the perspective of the burn survivor. A qualitative design with two focus groups at the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors’ World Burn Congress was used to examine views of compassionate care directly through 31 burn survivors’ accounts to better understand the concept and its delivery within the context of burn care. Discussions were recorded and transcripts were analyzed for prominent themes and descriptive components. Participants were primarily Caucasian (77%), female (60%), with an average age of 47.6 years and an average TBSA burn of approximately 49% sustained approximately 12 years ago. Qualitative data analysis yielded primary themes of: 1) respect the person (subthemes were: establishing an empathic connection, restoring control through choice, providing individualized care, and going above and beyond), 2) communication (subthemes: interpersonal and informational), and 3) provision of competent care. The three primary themes were components of compassionate care; it was not defined by a single characteristic, behavior, or skill but might be best understood as the convergence of the three themes. Implications of findings and barriers to the provision of compassionate care are also discussed.

From the College of Social Work, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.

Address correspondence to Karen Badger, PhD, MSW, University of Kentucky, 625 Patterson Office Tower, Lexington.

© 2012 The American Burn Association