Mindfulness-Based Compassion Training for Health Professionals Providing End-of-Life Care: Impact, Feasibility, and Acceptability

Kaaren J. Watts, Moira O'Connor, Claire E. Johnson, Lauren J. Breen, Robert T. Kane, Kathryn Choules, Claire Doyle, Grace Buchanan, Kevin Yuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Health professionals who care for patients and their families at the end of life (EOL) may experience gratitude, and enhanced spirituality and meaning in life, yet they are also at increased risk of psychological distress, compassion fatigue, and occupational burnout given the stressors they encounter in their work. Objectives: This research evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of a novel six-week mindfulness-based compassion training intervention, which was tailored to health professionals involved in EOL care ("MBCT4HP"), and explored its impact on levels of psychological distress, compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, occupational burnout, self-compassion, and mindfulness. Design: We adopted an observational, repeated measures pilot study. Setting/Subjects: Thirty-one health professionals participated. The intervention comprised six, weekly sessions (totaling seven hours) designed to foster compassion for self and others, including formal and informal compassion and mindfulness practices, daily home practice, and a reflective experiential pedagogy. Measurements: Validated outcome measures for anxiety, depression, and stress; compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue (burnout, secondary traumatic stress); occupational burnout (emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment, and depersonalization), self-compassion, and mindfulness were administered at baseline, end of intervention, and eight weeks postintervention. The feasibility and acceptability of the intervention was assessed using attendance records, home practice logs, and self-report satisfaction items. Descriptive statistics and Generalized Linear Mixed Models were used to analyze the data. Results: Participants reported that the sessions were useful, relevant, easy to understand, and that they gave them sufficient knowledge to implement the strategies learned. Levels of anxiety, compassion fatigue (burnout only), and emotional exhaustion decreased over time with some decay in effects at follow up, and levels of compassion satisfaction and self-compassion increased with time. Conclusions: The intervention was feasible and acceptable to health professionals involved in EOL care and had a positive impact on levels of anxiety, compassion fatigue (burnout), emotional exhaustion, compassion satisfaction, and self-compassion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1364-1374
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2021


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