Looking for Dr. Joe Explains—You're in the right place.

Check out the Series

Add your deal, information or promotional text

Compassionate Support: The Overlooked Patient Education Strategy

Effective patient education requires purposeful layering of many different elements, strategies, and approaches to target a specific patient population. Yet, all patient education has the same two fundamental goals: to be understandable and accurate.

But something is missing from this formula: Action.

And, do you know what’s one of the most effective ways to drive action? Building trust and a connection with your audience through compassionate support.


Interestingly, there are so many studies inside and outside of medicine focused on the impacts of compassion. Stanford even has an entire institute devoted to researching the effects of it!

You may be wondering, “Why is there so much attention on a single emotion?” Well, it’s because compassion has proved to significantly improve many aspects of our physical, emotional, and mental health.

So—what precisely is compassion, and why does it matter? How can patient education provide compassionate support? How can you use it to motivate your consumers to take action? Let’s dive into these answers!

What Is Compassion?

Many times empathy and compassion are used interchangeably, but they aren’t technically the same thing. The key difference? Action.

Empathy is the emotional experience of someone else’s feelings.
Compassion is the emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help.
When empathy grows from a genuine, internal emotion into an outward action, the outcome is compassion. That act of compassion can have lasting impacts on your patients.
field of flowers

Why Does Compassion Matter?

It’s simple. Small acts of kindness improve patient outcomes.

Compassion helps us form connections with others. These connections, in turn, help us feel calmer.1 Add on a new, unfamiliar, or stressful situation, and we form an even greater bond with our compassionate connections. Why? One reason is that compassion makes it easier for us to accept support—ultimately reducing our stress.2

Compassionate support creates a ripple effect of positive outcomes, many of which are derived from the trusted connection. Let’s take a look at some of the other positive effects of empathy and compassion.

  • Boosting patient satisfaction3
  • Improving adherence4
  • Forming a connection1
  • Reducing anxiety2 and stress3
  • Improving well-being

Learn how health literacy impacts patient action and outcomes.

What Does Compassionate Patient Education Look Like?

Yes, patient education can’t give a hug or take the time to listen to the patient in the exam room. However, the same elements of these interactions can be expressed through thoughtful patient education. By reducing anxiety, compassionate education can break down barriers to understanding, increasing comprehension, empowerment, and action.

Compassionate patient education acknowledges fears, challenges, and questions as if the doctor was in the room. It takes the time to explain the complex concepts, answer their questions, and alleviate their worries through understanding. Through words, we can show patients they aren’t alone.

Education that is compassionate and supportive forms a connection with patients and builds trust. This trust empowers patients to act.

pink flower

Why Is Compassion Overlooked?

The benefits of compassion and empathy in the exam room are pretty clear, so why is this patient education strategy underutilized?

The easy answer: It’s really tough to do.

As the saying goes, nothing worth doing comes easy. Fortunately, Leveling Health took on the challenge. After a lot of practice and years of experience, we’ve figured out how to use compassionate support as a patient education strategy. We have it down to a science.

Just like it’s important to provide compassion in the office, let us help you extend your support whenever your patients need it. Experience our compassionate support for yourself and see how Leveling Health’ patient education is different with our FREE sample kit.

It’s time to start driving action with compassion!

  1. UVNÄS-MOBERG KERSTIN. Physiological and Endocrine Effects of Social Contact. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1997;807(1 Integrative N):146-163. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1997.tb51917.x.
  2. Cosley BJ, McCoy SK, Saslow LR, Epel ES. Is compassion for others stress buffering? Consequences of compassion and social support for physiological reactivity to stress. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 2010;46(5):816-823. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2010.04.008.
  3. Lelorain S, Brédart A, Dolbeault S, Sultan S. A systematic review of the associations between empathy measures and patient outcomes in cancer care. Psycho-Oncology. 2012;21(12):1255-1264. doi:10.1002/pon.2115.
  4. Kaplan JE, Keeley RD, Engel M, Emsermann C, Brody D. Aspects of Patient and Clinician Language Predict Adherence to Antidepressant Medication. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2013;26(4):409-420. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2013.04.120201.

Leave a comment (all fields required)

Comments will be approved before showing up.