Introduction: Compassion is arguably central to palliative care. However, calls for the restoring of compassionate care suggest a need for greater understanding and promotion of compassion in practice. Drawing upon the Foucauldian concept 'Care of the Self', this review explored the literature relating to palliative care professionals' self-care, self-compassion, and compassion for others.
Methods: Three electronic databases were searched using identified key words. A thematic approach was used to synthesise and critically discuss the literature in the form of a narrative review.
Results: Four themes were identified: (1) importance of self-care; (2) awareness, expression, and planning; (3) dimensions of self-care; and (4) balanced compassion. Approaches to self-care practice and research focused mainly on compassion fatigue or a coping paradigm.
Conclusions: This review highlights both the importance and multifaceted nature of palliative care professionals' self-care, in relation to self-compassion and compassion for others. Despite widespread discussion, empirical knowledge of these variables is limited. Future research could usefully explore health promotion interventions in self-care practice, or a positive psychology paradigm that encompasses compassion and self-compassion as positive emotions associated with wellbeing.