© 2019 The Authors. Journal of Advanced Nursing Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Aims: To identify, describe, and summarize evidence from quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method studies conducted to prepare nurses and nursing students to lead on and/or deliver compassionate care. Design: Mixed-method systematic review. Data sources: CINAHL, Medline, PsychINFO, and SocINDEX (January 2007–February 2018). Review methods: Papers were screened by two independent reviewers using an online screening tool and data were extracted using a standardized data extraction table. Parallel-results convergent synthesis was used to synthesize evidence from included qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method studies. Quality appraisal and risk of bias assessment were conducted. Results: Fifteen studies were included with three main themes and six sub-themes: (a) programme impact (impact on ward-level and senior nurses and impact on nursing students and educators); (b) programme characteristics (characteristics leading to positive outcomes and characteristics leading to negative outcomes); and (c) programme implementation (implementation barriers and implementation facilitators). Compassionate care education programmes helped enhance nurses' ability to engage in reflective practice, deal with clinical challenges, and gain confidence. The importance of nurturing compassionate care delivery in nursing education was highlighted in the literature. Various nursing-level, patient-level, and organizational barriers to compassionate care delivery were identified. Conclusion: The impact of compassionate care educational programmes on nurses was predominantly positive. Further evaluation of the long-term impact of these programmes on nurses, patients, and organizations is warranted. Impact: Optimal delivery of compassionate care can be achieved by building organizational infrastructures that support nurses from all levels to attend education programmes and lead on compassionate care delivery.