Type of Document Thesis Author Abendroth, Maryann Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-04062005-150536 Title Predicting the Risk of Compassion Fatigue: An Empirical Study of Hospice Nurses Degree Master of Science Department Nursing, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Jeanne Flannery Committee Chair Denise Tucker Committee Member Sandra Faria Committee Member Keywords
- Maryann Abendroth
- Vicarious Traumatization
- Secondary Traumatic Stress
- Compassion Fatigue
- Secondary Trauma
- Palliative Care
Date of Defense 2005-03-21 Availability unrestricted AbstractHealth care literature and mainstream media sources have produced volumes of information regarding the current and projected effects of the nursing shortage. Little, however, has been written regarding the deleterious effects of this phenomenon, and other work-related factors, on the nurses in the trenches. Compassion Fatigue among care providers has emerged in the literature as a concept worthy of study; however, the population of hospice nurses has been virtually ignored.
The present inquiry utilized descriptive and inferential statistics to accomplish a two-fold purpose. Initially, it investigated the prevalence of CF risk among Florida’s hospice nurses and analyzed relationships among demographic, work-related, and personal health factors. Secondly, the study employed the use of multiple independent variables in a regression equation for the prediction of compassion fatigue risk.
Findings revealed that 78% of the sampled hospice nurses were at moderate to high risk for compassion fatigue with approximately 26% in the “high risk” category. Additionally, participants from the entire sample were experiencing the overt effects of stress, manifested in hypertension (30%), depression/PTSD (22%), and headaches (28%). These effects were, no doubt, exacerbated by the fact that more than half (53%) reported stress from finances, slightly less than half were encountering five or more patient deaths per month, and almost 65% were sacrificing their own personal needs for the needs of their patients.
Major factors such as trauma, anxiety, life demands, and excessive empathy (leading to blurred professional boundaries) were key determinants of CF risk in a multiple regression model that accounted for 91% of the variance in this dependent variable. With knowledge of these few variables, hospice organizations may identify nurses at risk and take measures not only to provide needed support for these individuals, but also, to seek to eliminate or reduce the contributing factors.
This inquiry provided a first glimpse into the stressful world of Hospice nurses, provided a means for the identification of those at risk of compassion fatigue and an estimate of prevalence in a state where the demands on these caregivers are expected to increase exponentially. While these results appear to have prescriptive value, replication is warranted to validate the model’s, as well as the study’s, other descriptive findings.
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