Risk for Compassion Fatigue Among Doctor of Nursing Practice Students
AuthorKulesa, Kathleen Cecilia
AdvisorSheppard, Kate G.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractBackground/Objectives: Compassion fatigue (CF) is severe emotional and physical exhaustion resulting from unresolved burnout and/or secondary traumatic stress. Prevalent in registered nurses and physicians, CF negatively impacts both the caregiver and the care provided and is associated with job attrition. There is no direct measure for CF. Risk is assigned according to the intensity of each constituent part and the relationships between these parts. The purpose of this practice inquiry was to describe the risk for CF among doctor of nursing practice (DNP) students seeking nurse practitioner certification, a previously unstudied and potentially at-risk population. Design: A descriptive study was performed to describe: 1) the prevalence of compassion satisfaction; 2) the prevalence of burnout; 3) the prevalence of secondary traumatic stress; 4) the prevalence of risk profiles developed by Stamm (2010); and 5) the relationship between demographic characteristics and CF risk profiles in a sample of DNP students. Setting: The University of Arizona, College of Nursing between August 24, 2013 and November 19, 2013. Participants: 59 graduate nursing students seeking nurse practitioner certification and a DNP degree self-selected to participate in the study. Measurements: The Professional Quality of Life Scale-5 (ProQOL 5) was utilized to measure the components of CF: compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. Patient demographics included: gender, age, years in nursing, nursing specialty, and employment status. Results: The DNP student population appears to be at-risk for CF, with 69% of the sample falling outside of the "low risk" CF profile. Stamm's (2010) five risk profiles were expanded to assign a level of risk to the 63% of participants who did not land in an existing profile. There were no statistically significant relationships between demographic variables and the expanded CF risk profiles, consistent with previous studies on the individual ProQOL components. A weak trend of increasing CF risk with years of nursing practice suggests that accumulated exposure to suffering increases CF risk. However, a small sample size and self-normalization in the ProQOL 5 limit the generalizability of the findings. Conclusion: DNP students are an at-risk population; therefore, we recommend incorporation of CF awareness and risk reduction into the DNP curriculum. Applicability of the ProQOL 5 test is hindered by scoring inconsistencies and self-normalization bias and we propose solutions. We additionally propose the concept of a single numeric index to quantify individual CF risk. Use of a single continuous variable pertaining to CF risk is likely to be crucial for future characterization, screening, and interventions.
Degree ProgramGraduate College