Confronting Compassion Fatigue: Assessment and Intervention in Inpatient Oncology

Lisa M. Zajac, DNP, RN, ANP-BC, OCN®; Katherine J. Moran, DNP, RN, CDE, FAADE; Carla J. Groh, PhD, PMHNP, FAAN


Background: A notable variation among patient satisfaction scores with nursing care was identified. Contributing factors were examined and revealed significant negative correlations between the unit death rate and surviving patients’ satisfaction scores. Compassion fatigue (CF) was hypothesized to be a major contributing factor.

Objectives: The objective was to address CF in RNs and oncology care associates (assistive personnel) by developing an intervention to provide bereavement support to staff after patient deaths.

Methods: A mixed-methods sequential design was used. Instruments included the Professional Quality of Life scale and Press Ganey survey results. Univariate descriptive statistics, frequencies, an independent t test, and an analysis of covariance were used for data analysis.

Findings: The preintervention results revealed average compassion satisfaction and secondary traumatic stress scores and low burnout scores. No significant difference was noted between pre- and postintervention CF scores. Patients’ perception of nurses’ skills improved significantly in the second quarter of 2015.

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