Oct. 1, 2018

Implementing a routine measure in clinical care to evaluate and improve compassion

Dr. Shane Sinclair, associate professor, UCalgary Nursing is working on a way to measure compassion
Shane Sinclair
Shane Sinclair, Carolyn Campbell, Katie Webber, P. Jaggi, R. Campbell, L. Smith-Macdonald, S. Sajan Colleen De Neve

Shane Sinclair knows compassion is different for everyone, but in The COMPASS Study, his CIHR-funded project to develop a measure of compassion, he is determined to come up with something that can help improve compassion for all patients.

“We have spent a lot of time on the wording of survey questions to accurately and comprehensibly measure experiences of compassion,” he explains.

“Previous studies have not actually done necessary foundational work so that was the first thing: getting people to define compassion. Now, we are at a stage of asking 54 questions of our subjects, based on the patient model of compassion we developed, in four clinical settings: acute care, hospice, home care and long-term care. We will then analyze those answers, consolidate the questions and test them on another 300 patients in the next round.”

Sinclair’s team, located in Winnipeg and Calgary, has included long-term care patients, some with dementia. “This population has been excluded without warrant from a lot of studies. We found from speaking to doctors and nurses that while patients with early to midonset may not be oriented to time and place, they can tell you about their care experience,” he says.

At the end of the project, Sinclair hopes to get a measurement tool into clinical practice that will help patients receive more compassionate care.

“It is my hope that one day family members will be able to pull up long-term care facilities ‘compassion scores’ for the year as they determine which facility they want to entrust the care of their loved one to. The compassion scale will tell them that.”

What's next: "Wouldn’t it be cool for anyone to go online and, in addition to seeing waitlist times, choose a health-care facility based on their compassion scores?"