Compassionate communities interventions: a scoping review

Caity Roleston, Rachel Shaw, Karen West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The compassionate communities (CC) movement is an emergent health promotion approach to palliative care that views illness, dying, death, and loss as universal experiences, and challenges the notion that disease precludes one from health care attention and interest. It seeks to normalise these phenomena and reorientate care to communities by activating naturally occurring networks and mobilising community resources. A surge of interventions aligned with the ethos of CC has been observed over the last decade. This scoping review seeks to synthesise what is currently known about the design, efficacy, and impact of CC interventions.

METHODS: Cochrane, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science were systematically searched. Hand searching was performed on three key journals, reference lists and citation lists of included articles, and relevant review articles. Two levels of analysis were conducted. First, a numerical presentation of the characteristics of CC interventions. Second, a thematically orientated narrative analysis of intervention efficacy.

RESULTS: A total of 1,882 records were screened; 62 papers were included. Most were implemented by palliative care organisations in Europe, North America, and Australia. Included studies were mapped against Clark et al.'s taxonomy of end-of-life interventions: educational (n=17); service (n=20); clinical (n=3); cultural (n=4); and multi-dimensional (n=18) interventions are discussed. While preliminary findings are positive, claims of efficacy are limited due to methodological paucity in the field.

CONCLUSIONS: We argue that the field would benefit from more transparent and theoretically driven CC interventions in order to explicate the mechanism(s) for successful intervention implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-951
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of palliative medicine
Issue number5
Early online date17 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © Annals of Palliative Medicine. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits the non-commercial replication and distribution of the article with the strict proviso that no changes or edits are made and the original work is properly cited (including links to both the formal publication through the relevant DOI and the license). See:


  • Compassionate communities (CC)
  • scoping review
  • intervention
  • palliative care


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