Purpose: This study explored the experiences of patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, and health service leaders of compassion in the care of people hospitalized with COVID-19. Materials and methods: This study is a secondary analysis of qualitative data deriving from primary research data on recommendations for healthcare organizations providing care to people hospitalized with COVID-19. Participants comprised patients with COVID-19 (n = 10), family caregivers (n = 5) and HCPs in COVID-19 units (n = 12). Primary research data were analyzed deductively under the “lens” of compassion, as defined by Goetz. Results: Four interacting themes were found: (1) COVID-19 – to care or not to care? The importance of feeling safe, (2) A lonely illness – suffering in isolation with COVID-19, (3) Compassionate care for people with COVID-19 across the hospital continuum, and (4) Sustaining compassionate care for people hospitalized with COVID-19 – healthcare provider compassion fatigue and burnout. Conclusions: Compassionate care is not a given for people hospitalized with COVID-19. Healthcare providers must feel safe to provide care before responding compassionately. People hospitalized with COVID-19 experience additional suffering through isolation. Compassionate care for people hospitalized with COVID-19 is more readily identifiable in the rehabilitation setting. However, compassion fatigue and burnout in this context threaten healthcare sustainability.


© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

Simpson, R., Szigeti, Z., Sheppard, C., Minezes, J., Hitzig, S., Mayo, A., Robinson, L., Lung, M. & Wasilewski, M. 2022, 'The experiences of patients, family caregivers, healthcare providers, and health service leaders with compassionate care following hospitalization with COVID-19: a qualitative study', Disability and Rehabilitation. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2022.2113564

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Last updated: 24 November 2023
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