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(Sinclair +2017)

Sympathy, empathy, and compassion: A grounded theory study of palliative care patients' understandings, experiences, and preferences.


Compassion is considered an essential element in quality patient care. One of the conceptual challenges in healthcare literature is that compassion is often confused with sympathy and empathy. Studies comparing and contrasting patients' perspectives of sympathy, empathy, and compassion are largely absent.

Although sympathy, empathy, and compassion are used interchangeably and frequently conflated in healthcare literature, patients distinguish and experience them uniquely. Understanding patients' perspectives is important and can guide practice, policy reform, and future research.