AuthorBouchard, Lindsay Ann
Professional quality of life
Secondary traumatic stress
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.
AbstractThe purpose of this study was to describe the experiences, symptoms, and effects of compassion fatigue among emergency nurses, and to identify potentially effective interventions. Compassion fatigue within the profession of nursing is of growing concern due to its negative impact on nurses' mental and physical health, productivity, and patient care. There is a notable paucity of available qualitative research related to compassion fatigue in nursing, but available quantitative data indicates that emergency nurses could be especially at risk for developing compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is commonly conceptualized as being composed of burnout and secondary traumatic stress; however, previous exploratory research indicated that this definition might not adequately fit emergency nurses. Focus group interviews were conducted with emergency department nurses from four local hospitals. The participants were asked about their experiences, symptoms, and perceptions of the effects of compassion fatigue, and about potentially effective interventions to address compassion fatigue within their work setting. A content analysis of the interview data was performed to identify categories, common threads and patterns, and related themes. Although the participants' average length of time working in the emergency setting was less than two years, they all reported having intense experiences related to professional burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and the negative effects of compassion fatigue. The development of compassion fatigue was contributed to both organizational (time pressure and lack of resources and leadership support) and patient (clinical uncertainty, reason for seeing care, and witnessing grief) factors. The main symptoms of compassion fatigue were exhaustion, impaired communication, decreased emotional tolerance, coping with dark humor, and detachment/dissociation. These symptoms affected the participants both at work and home. The suggested potential interventions comprised of self-care activities, debriefing with clinical staff, continuing education, and increasing awareness about compassion fatigue in the work setting. The data from this qualitative descriptive study expands our knowledge of the concept and ramifications of compassion fatigue in nursing, specifically in the emergency setting. It also offers potentially effective interventions to prevent and address the negative effects of compassion fatigue.
Degree ProgramGraduate College