Type of Document Thesis Author Adkinson, Lauren Fullenkamp URN etd-11082005-191934 Title Compassion Fatigue in Public Health Nurses working on Disaster Relief Teams Degree Master of Science Department Nursing, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Deborah Frank Committee Chair Mary Beth Zeni Committee Member Sally Karioth Committee Member Keywords
- Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Compassion Stress
- Gail Sheehy
- Charles Figley
- Nursing Shortage
Date of Defense 2005-10-27 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe nursing shortage is of growing concern to the nation’s health care system. The problem and thus the solution are multifaceted. Many solutions exist in alleviating the nursing shortage, one of those solutions is to reduce the incidence of compassion fatigue among nurses. Compassion Fatigue can be a precursor to burnout, a phenomena that may be causing nurses to leave the profession. Compassion fatigue and burnout are a real threat to the nursing profession. During an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Toronto Canada in 2003, 5 nurses decided to quit their jobs. They decided to quit after “a month of putting up with long hours under unusually strenuous conditions” (CBC News Online Staff, 2003, p. 1). Strenuous conditions included working 12 hour shifts without the allotted breaks, wearing heavy protective gear that caused the nurses to break out in rashes, and fearing they might contract the potentially fatal disease or bring it home to their families. The purpose of this study was to examine the factor of compassion fatigue, and the role it plays in nurses who provide assistance during natural disasters.
This study chose to examine only female middle aged nurses who provided care to victims of the 2004 Hurricane season in Florida. The rationale for choosing only female middle aged nurses lies in the fact that they comprise the majority of the current nursing population. Variables such as marital status, number of times deployed to assist victims and number of years in public health, were examined for their effect on levels of risk for compassion fatigue.
This study used a subset of data from a pre-existing data set. The original study utilized a retrospective design and had participants complete a survey 3-4 months after they assisted hurricane victims. A total of 500 participants were selected at random by the Department of Health; addresses for those participants were also provided by the Department of Health. Survey packets containing a letter of introduction, letter of consent, stamped return envelope, demographic data sheet and two copies of the Compassion Fatigue Self Test (CFST) were mailed to the 500 participants. Each packet was numerically coded, to keep the participants anonymous, only the original researchers had access to the master list of participants and corresponding codes. Return of the survey served as consent for the study. For the current study only female participants age 40-60 years with complete data were included in the sample. The total number of participants who met the inclusion criteria was 55. Descriptive statistics, factorial ANOVA and simple effects were used to analyze the data.
Findings indicate that the majority of the participants were non-Hispanic white, married and had no children living with them at the time they provided care to victims of the hurricanes. This was the first experience assisting victims of a hurricane for the majority of the sample, and they had also not provided assistance in other types of natural disasters. As a result, the average level of risk for compassion fatigue, both during the hurricanes and 3-4 months after, was low. Of the variables that were examined as possible moderating variables on level of risk for compassion fatigue, only years in public health proved to be significant. Results from analyses on years in public heath and compassion fatigue revealed that those with 11-20 years of experience in public health had the greatest rate of change in levels of risk for compassion fatigue experienced during the hurricanes and 3-4 months after. Those who had the most experience in public health did not experience significant levels of risk for compassion fatigue, and they also showed little change from levels experienced during the hurricanes and 3-4 months later. The factors of being middle aged and female seemed to prove beneficial in dealing with compassion stress/fatigue.
Filename Size Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds)
28.8 Modem 56K Modem ISDN (64 Kb) ISDN (128 Kb) Higher-speed Access AdkinsonLThesis.pdf 1.39 Mb 00:06:26 00:03:18 00:02:54 00:01:27 00:00:07