Empathy in the nurse–patient relationship in geriatric care: An integrative review

Nursing Ethics 26 (6):1585-1600 (2019)

Introduction: Empathy is a complex human experience that involves the subjective intersection of different individuals. In the context of nursing care in the geriatric setting, the benefits of empathetic relationships are directly related to the quality of the practice of nursing. Objective: Analyze scientific production on the benefits of empathy in the nurse–patient relationship in the geriatric care setting. Methods: An integrative review of the literature was performed using the PubMed, Cochrane, CINAHL, Scopus, PsycINFO, and Web of Science databases. The articles retrieved were organized, evaluated, and classified based on the level of scientific evidence. Results: Relationships of empathy between nurses and older people were analyzed in quasi-experimental studies using different assessment tools, the majority of which had moderate levels of validity and reliability. Studies with a qualitative approach discussed the meaning of empathy in terms of the quality of care offered, compassion, and vulnerability. Discussion: Levels of empathy increase when activities are developed with the aim of teaching, sensitization, and training for relational care between nursing staff and older people. The analysis of empathetic relationships is important to the evaluation of the quality of care provided to older people. Conclusion: Empathy in the nurse–patient relationship in the geriatric care setting is an important ethical aspect that contributes to the quality of the practice of nursing. The present findings indicate the need for more robust assessment tools with adequate psychometric properties and the descriptive analysis of empathy.
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DOI 10.1177/0969733018787228
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