Understanding and enhancing compassionate patient care through research: the co-production method


Session type:

Amy Taylor, Denyse Hodgson



Evidence based practice is essential for the design and delivery of services to enhance quality of the care for patients living with and beyond cancer. Historically however, researchers carried out studies with little or no involvement of those who commissioned, provided or used health services. Consequently, findings were often deemed to not be relevant to or representative of those groups. Co-production was founded on the premise that patients are not only users of the service or simply research participants. They instead should be regarded active agents in their care, the delivery and design of services and collaborated with as engaged participants not merely passive subjects. By using co-production the research aimed to develop a context specific definition of compassion and identify commonly recognised compassionate behaviours in order to enhance the compassionate care received by patients during their cancer pathway.


Co-production underpinned the qualitative inquiry and design of the research. Eleven focus groups were independently conducted, five with Therapeutic Radiographers, three with cancer patients and carers and three with student Therapeutic Radiographers. Following thematic analysis of the data, three co-production workshops permitted synthetisation and integration of the three independent data sets.


Co-production enabled the collective experiences of the different participant groups to shape the themes generated, whilst ensuring they were equally representative of the perspectives of the three participant groups. The co-produced definition conveys how compassion can be recognised and the construction of a conceptual framework illustrates how compassion is displayed.


It is essential the patient voice is central to research, their perspectives provide insights and understanding of the services, treatments and care they receive. The development of a shared understanding of compassion will help to ensure compassion is promoted and practiced as standard, becoming the foundation of care for patients living with and beyond cancer.

Impact statement

The project has created a process model that will provide a structure for researchers who wish to employ co-production in future studies and ensure their findings are truly reflective of their patient cohort.