Topical Concurrent Session 2D – Caring for others and caring for ourselves in pain (medicine)


APSNZPS 2018: Topical Concurrent Session 2D

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Topical Concurrent Session 2D: Caring for others and caring for ourselves in pain (medicine) – How do we foster compassion?
Chair: Professor Nathan Consedine, University of Auckland, Auckland NZ

Compassion – the desire to alleviate the suffering of others – is a critical aspect of clinical care, particularly in pain. Compassion is expected by regulatory bodies, patients, and physicians themselves; initial data indicate that compassionate physicians promote better outcomes. However, while physicians are expected to care, many “burn out” and experience compassion fatigue.

In setting the scene for this topical session, Dr Fernando will briefly define compassion, contrast it from empathy, and consider its role in our personal, professional, and societal lives. Recent work providing insight into compassion’s evolutionary role and basic neurobiology will be presented. The benefits of practicing medicine with compassion and useful approaches to enhance it in the context of pain and pain management will be considered.

Professor Consedine will then use this picture to illuminate the factors that interfere with compassion in greater detail, describing the practical implications from recent studies among medical professionals. Rather than viewing compassion as stemming from physicians alone, data suggest that the patient, the clinical picture, and the work environment are also critical.

In the latter part of the presentation Dr Kirby will remind us that compassion is not only for our patients but is also a necessary ingredient in self-care, discussing how compassion can help with emotional exhaustion and burnout. He will review evidence regarding how compassion helps us respond to others in our work and in how building a compassionate-self can help with self-care. He will present work examining compassion-focused therapy, and provide some specific compassion practices and strategies.

Dr Tony Fernando, University of Auckland, Auckland NZ
Professor Nathan Consedine, University of Auckland, Auckland NZ
Dr James Kirby, University of Queensland, QLD

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