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Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Compassion Satisfaction Among Oncology Nurses in the United States and Canada

Stacey Wu
Savitri Singh-Carlson
Annie Odell
Grace Reynolds
Yuhua Su
ONF 2016, 43(4), E161-E169 DOI: 10.1188/16.ONF.E161-E169

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the experiences of compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction among oncology nurses in the United States and Canada.

Design: Quantitative, descriptive, nonexperimental.

Setting: Online survey with members from the Canadian Association of Nursing Oncology and the Oncology Nursing Society.

Sample: 486 American and 63 Canadian practicing oncology nurses.

Methods: The Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) scale, version 5, and modified Abendroth Demographic Questionnaire were administered through FluidSurveys™, an online data collection instrument. Chi-square tests of independence were used to investigate associations between demographic characteristics, health, personal stressors, and work-related characteristics to experiences of compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction. Compassion fatigue was measured using the subscales of secondary traumatic stress and burnout.

Main Research Variables: Compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction.

Findings: Demographic characteristics were similar in American and Canadian participants, and both cohorts reported comparable levels of compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction. Perception of team cohesiveness within the workplace environment was found to be significant for both groups, as indicated by significant relationships in all three subscales of secondary traumatic stress, burnout, and compassion satisfaction in the ProQOL.

Conclusions: Healthy and supportive work environments are imperative to nurses’ health, well-being, and satisfaction. Improvements in the workplace can help prevent negative sequelae, as well as improve health outcomes for patients and nurses, decrease nurse turnover, and reduce healthcare expenditures.

Implications for Nursing: Findings can be used to implement institutional changes, such as creating policies and guidelines for the development of preventive interventions and psychosocial support for nurses.

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