You matter: Finding your self-compassion

You matter: Finding your self-compassion

A scoping review recently conducted by Steen et al.1 reported that self-compassion could help reduce work-based stressors, ie. anxiety, stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout in nurses and midwives.

The review, The influence of self-compassion upon midwives and nurses, highlights evidence to suggest that self-compassion can enhance nurses’ and midwives’ ability to be compassionate to others.

An educational workshop has been developed from evidence identified from undertaking this scoping review.1

You matter: Finding your self-compassion education and training workshop has been piloted with clinical educators. Two workshops were held at the Chief Nurse’s education rooms in Adelaide on 3 November 2020. Twenty-two nurse/midwife clinical educators who are members of South Australia Practice Development Network (SAPDN) and employed by SA Health attended the workshops.

The workshop aimed to increase awareness and ability for self-compassion. Clinical educators completed a (12-item) self-compassion scale,2 before attending the workshop.

Data analysis demonstrated a self-compassion mean of 38.38 out of 60, which indicates that clinical educators had a moderate to low level of self-compassion. On completion of the workshop, an evaluation confirmed that all clinical educators acknowledged the importance and value of compassion to self and others. Almost all of the educators strongly agreed that the workshop provided them with a clear understanding of self-compassion and strategies that can be used. The interactive workshop content assisted them in understanding the underpinning philosophy and awareness of health and wellbeing benefits of self-compassion. All educators reported that they would practice self-compassion in the future. Ten confirmed that they would like to attend a ‘train the trainer’ session to teach self-compassion care and strategies to other nurses and midwives.

This preparatory work has now led to a research study being planned, and ethical approval has been granted.

Around 400 nurses and midwives will be given an opportunity to participate in the study. They will be asked to complete a pre-educational self-compassion questionnaire (online) before registering to attend a workshop at metropolitan and rural clinical sites. Two post-compassion questionnaires will be completed immediately after attending a workshop and at 6-8 weeks. Some nurses and midwives will be given an opportunity to be interviewed at three months.

The topic of self-compassion and emerging evidence of the influence this has upon health and wellbeing is relevant not only to nurses and midwives but all health professionals, patients, their families, communities, and society at large. Therefore, a series of studies are being planned for future research.

Nurses and midwives in South Australia will be able to learn more about the study via a designated website:

  1. Steen M, Javanmard M & Vernon, R. 2021. The influence of self-compassion upon midwives and nurses: A scoping review. Evidence-Based. Midwifery,7, no. 3, 16-30
  2. Raes, F, Pommier, E, Neff, KD & Van Gucht, D. 2011. Construction and factorial validation of a short form of the self-compassion scale Psychol. Psychother, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 250-255. doi: 10.1002/cpp.702

Professor Mary Steen, RGN, RM, Dip ClinHypn, BHSc, PGCRM, PGDipHE, MCGI, PhD is Professor of Midwifery, Professorial Lead for Maternal and Family Health at UniSA Clinical & Health Sciences, University of South Australia

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