Evaluation of a Compassion Fatigue Resiliency Program for Oncology Nurses

Patricia Potter

Teresa Deshields

Julia Allen Berger

Marty Clarke

Sarah Olsen

Ling Chen

compassion, compassion fatigue, self-care, cancer nursing
ONF 2013, 40(2), 180-187. DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.180-187

Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate a resiliency program designed to educate oncology nurses about compassion fatigue.

Design: Descriptive pilot study.

Setting: A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the midwestern United States.

Sample: 13 oncology nurses employed in an outpatient infusion center.

Methods: Nurses attended a five-week program involving five 90-minute sessions on compassion fatigue resiliency. A pre- and post-test design, using repeated measures, was conducted over six months.

Main Research Variables: Scores on the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) IV, Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey, Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), and the Nursing Job Satisfaction Scale.

Findings: Long-term benefits were realized from the program. Secondary traumatization scores on the ProQOL IV declined immediately after the program, remained down at three months, and then dropped again at six months, with a statistically significant mean difference compared with baseline. The average IES-R total scores improved significantly overall and for each of the three postintervention time points. Participants evaluated the program positively with respect to their ability to apply and benefit from resiliency techniques.

Conclusions: This is the first reported study to show benefits gained from a compassion fatigue intervention program. Participants received useful strategies for managing stress at work and home.

Implications for Nursing: Compassion fatigue is a prevalent condition among healthcare providers. Development of resiliency to compassion fatigue may improve decision making, clarity of communication, and patient and nurse satisfaction.

Knowledge Translation: Self-regulation offers an approach to reduce stress during a perceived threat. Working by intention reduces reactivity in the workplace and makes communication more intentional and, therefore, effective.

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