Conceptualizing Compassion as Recognizing, Relating and (Re)acting: A Qualitative Study of Compassionate Communication at Hospice

Deborah Way, Sarah Tracy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Scopus citations


Using qualitative data gathered among hospice employees, this study explores the communication of compassion at work, providing an in-depth understanding of one of the most quickly growing healthcare contexts and offering a new conceptualization of compassion. The analysis is framed with emotional labor, burnout, and compassion literature, and shows how communicating compassion emerged as a central theme. The heart of the paper provides a rich description of hospice workers as they engaged in the compassionate communication activities of recognizing, relating, and (re)acting. The study extends past research on compassion, highlighting its holistic nature and providing a model that demonstrates its core communicative action. In doing so, it opens the door for future research and suggests practical implications for practicing compassion at work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-315
Number of pages24
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012



  • Compassion
  • Emotion
  • Hospice
  • Organizational Communication
  • Qualitative Methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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