Development of an interactive model of creative play and critical reflection to advance sympathetic presence in Nursing practice; a case of interdisciplinary pedagogy with Nursing and Drama.

Patrick Deeny, Matt Jennings

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


In the wake of recent critical reports on the National Health Service there is a fresh drive to create a culture of care that delivers a dignified and empowered patient experience (O’Neill, 2013). Models such as Person-Centred Nursing (PCN) (McCormack and McCance, 2010) have emerged as frameworks for strategic direction in this area. One of the key features of PCN is the concept of Sympathetic Presence, which implies, not empathy per se, but a point that involves the nurse being available “in the moment” (McCormack and McCance, 2010, p 104). Research has shown that Applied Drama can lead to positive outcomes in Nursing pedagogy (Boggs et al, 2007; McGarry and Aubeeluck, 2013; Bates, 2013;Lee et al, 2014). There have been calls to use such methods to deepen empathy in relation to the patient experience (Arveklev et al, 2015). ‘Sympathetic presence’ has not been explored. Nursing students (n=200) were instructed in the use of Applied Drama techniques such as Theatre of the Oppressed (Boal 1979), and actor training techniques, such as Stanislavski’s Method of Physical Action (Benedetti, 1998). Scenarios were video-recorded. Assessment involved a reflective account of the experience using a framework of critical reflection derived from Asadoorian et al (2011). Most students felt they advanced in understanding of ‘sympathetic presence’ and gained new insights into the patient experience. Students stated that they gained new skills and understanding of agency, person-centred engagement and ‘presence’. While this remains work in progress, it can be inferred that is possible to use Applied Drama as form of creative play to support critical reflection through an interactive model that advances Sympathetic Presence in the nurse-patient relationship. Key Words: Empathy, Sympathetic Presence, Nursing, Drama, Critical Reflection, Pedagogy. References: Arveklev, S.H., Wigert, H., Berg, L., Burton, B., Lepp, M. 2015 The use and application of drama in nursing education - An integrative review of the literature Nurse Education Today 35(7), e12-e17Asadoorian, J., Schönwetter, D, J. and Lavigne, S, E. 2011 Developing Reflective Health Care Practitioners: Learning from Experience in Dental Hygiene Education. Journal of Dental Education 75(4), 472-484Bates, K. (2013) Drama in the classroom: Fitness to practise. Practising Midwife, 16(1), 23-25. Benedetti, J.( 1998) Stanislavski and the Actor. London: MethuenBoal, A. (1979) Theatre of the Oppressed. London: Pluto BooksBoggs, J, Mickel, A, and Holtom, B.2007. Experiential Learning Through Interactive Drama: An Alternative To Student Role Plays Journal of Management Education, 31(6), 832-858Lee,B, Patall, EA, Cawthon,S,W and Steingut, R,R. (2014) The Effect of Drama-Based Pedagogy on PreK-16 Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis of Research From 1985 to 2012. Review of Educational Research. 20(10),1-47McCormack,B and McCance,T. (2010) Person-centred Nursing; theory and practice. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.McGarry, J. and Aubeeluck, A. (2013) A Different Drum: An Arts-Based Educational Program. Nursing Science Quarterly, 26(3), 267-273. O’Neill, K (2013) (Ed) Patient-centred Leadership; rediscovering our purpose. London: King’s Fund
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherUnpublished Research Paper
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Apr 2016
Event3rd Global Meeting of Empathy Project - Mansfield College, Oxford University
Duration: 19 Apr 2016 → …


Conference3rd Global Meeting of Empathy Project
Period19/04/16 → …


  • Empathy
  • Sympathetic Presence
  • Nursing
  • Applied Drama
  • Actor Training
  • Arts and Health
  • Critical Reflection
  • Pedagogy.


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