Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) in informal caregivers of older adults

Informal caregivers of older adults have high levels of caregiver burden and are at risk for stress, burnout, empathic distress and compassion fatigue. The purpose of this study was to examine caregivers’ levels of mindfulness, self-compassion, empathy, and empathic distress through their participation in an 8-week Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program; as well as to measure if CCT had a positive impact on their daily lives and in their role as a caregiver. This longitudinal study collected data from 8 caregivers using a mixed-method design; quantitative interviews and standardized questionnaires were used to collect data 3 months after the programs’ completion. Caregivers showed a statistically significant increase in mindfulness from the time they started the program to program completion. Furthermore, the qualitative analysis revealed increases in levels of mindfulness, self-compassion, and empathy; and showed reductions in stress, burnout, and empathic distress. The qualitative findings also showed that CCT had a positive impact on the caregivers’ daily life and in their role as a caregiver. Social workers routinely offer support to informal caregivers in order to assist in management of factors such as stress and compassion fatigue. Interventions such as CCT may affect these variables, corresponding with reduced stress and increased compassion for self and others. One recommendation for future research is to conduct an experimental study with a randomized control group, to help explain how CCT might serve as an effective intervention for caregivers.