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Philip J Larkin—Compassion: a conceptual reading for palliative and end-of-life care 

Philip J Larkin—Compassion: a conceptual reading for palliative and end-of-life care
Chapter:
Philip J Larkin—Compassion: a conceptual reading for palliative and end-of-life care
Author(s):

Philip J Larkin

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198703310.003.0001
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date: 23 October 2020

This chapter provides an overview of the wider academic discourse on the topic of compassion and sets the context for the chapters which follow. It is argued that the topic of compassion is evident across most academic disciplines, including theology, philosophy, psychology, and ethics. Definitions and descriptions of compassion are proposed from a variety of perspectives. Compassion is described in terms of a response to human suffering and, as such, can be presumed integral to the work of caring professions such as medicine and nursing. Caring for those at end-of-life with its emphasis on compassion and the relief of suffering would seem to offer a concrete example of how compassion and care interlink. However, there has been criticism that in some way compassion has been lost in the way care is given and that its importance in the daily practice of caregiving needs to be rediscovered. This chapter opens that debate and describes how, in subsequent chapters, the author and 19 other palliative and end-of-life care experts describe what compassion means to them. Each author provides a case exemplar of where compassion has been a critical issue in the planning and management of care. Finally, ways in which we can sustain and nurture compassion in the practice of future clinicians in palliative and end-of-life care draws their individual contributions to a close.

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