Example - Journal of Compassionate Health Care

Just got word that a new journal has launched: Journal of Compassionate Health Care: http://www.jcompassionatehc.com

_“Journal of Compassionate Health Care _provides a vehicle for bringing together multidisciplinary perspectives, research and initiatives concerning the topical concept of compassionate care. The journal invites international contributions and promotes research, discussion and the sharing of experiences with the ultimate goal to improve clinical effectiveness and quality of health care.”

The need to launch such a journal - well described in the initial issue editorial -   bears witness to the degree to which society has embraced empiricism in health care. To what extent is the call to compassion a response to an otherwise hyper empirical approach to health care today?

Basically, people that believe that health care should be compassionate have organized a journal and put the ideas of compassionate care into an empirical framework. Or perhaps this is a good example of the inner struggle to find a balance between empiricism and rationalism (our rationale awareness of human values). I doubt the journal editors believe we really need empirical evidence that being compassionate when delivering health care is the right thing to do? I would ask, Does compassionate care need to be shown to be more effective? What if the journal’s articles cannot actually demonstrate within a purely empirical tradition that compassion is useful when delivering health care (based on some a priori determined metric of what would be useful)? Are such null findings going to be used as evidence to not be compassionate? Or is it more likely that we already have a value system that rationally places the benefits of compassionate care as a priority so that we will interpret null findings as type II errors (if they are even published); will the journal only publish “statistically significant findings” (believe me - lots of upcoming posts, and links to papers and links to other posts about statistical significance) to justify our rationale knowledge with empirical evidence only to be criticized for “publication bias” in a future systematic review? When all along we should really be capable of agreeing that compassionate care is a given, rationally, and that empirical evidence is not required to justify it.

I do not know what this journal’s full intentions are in terms of the types of papers that will be published, or their epistemological framework. I likely have a lot to learn about the comparative effectiveness research on different models of compassion used in health care and the different ways of training health care providers to be compassionate. And sharing ways to be compassionate sounds like a great thing to do. I hope the journal testifies to and raises awareness of alternative approaches to decision making and do not limit themselves to the purely empirical framework of current approaches to evidence based practice.

But if you do believe that compassionate care must be justified by empirical evidence, please consider the extreme empirical foundations of that belief.

Either way I wish the journal all the best as they get started - I have just signed up for updates when new articles are published (it is an open access journal, so free for readers, a fee for authors) and look forward to following this interesting topic from the vantage point of the empiricism - rationalism epistemological framework.

Besides the editorial, there is a “Debate Article” in the first issue that clearly understands that you cannot reduce compassion as a concept to the empirical view.  To me - that is such great news :)



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