OJIN Jan 2011 focus on Compassion Fatigue: understanding and prevention

  1. ojin: the online journal of issues in nursing number 1: january 2011
    should be required reading all nursing programs--great inservice info too. karen

    overview and summary

    becoming a nurse and caring for others can be very rewarding and fulfilling. however, caring for those in need can also lead to severe stress in all areas of nursing. in 1992 joinson, a nurse, described the phenomenon of compassion fatigue (cf) as a unique form of burnout that affects people in caregiving professions. figley (1995) defined it as a secondary traumatic stress reaction resulting from helping or desiring to help a person suffering from traumatic events. its symptomology is nearly identical to that of post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd), except cf applies to caregivers who were affected by the trauma of others. caregivers with cf may develop a preoccupation with their patients by re-experiencing their trauma; they can develop signs of persistent arousal and anxiety as a result of this secondary trauma. examples of this arousal can include difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, and/or exaggerated startle responses. most importantly, these caregivers ultimately experience a reduced capacity for, or interest in being empathic toward the suffering of others. scholars differ in their perspectives of cf especially at it relates to burnout. however, they tend to agree that in general cf has a more sudden and acute onset than burnout, a condition that gradually wears down caregivers who are overwhelmed and unable to effect positive change. understanding cf can empower nurses to utilize preventive measures that promote self care, improve patient outcomes, and optimize therapeutic relationships

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    About NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN Moderator

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  3. by   herring_RN
    All too often a caregiver has no life other than caring for a loved one. Caregivers health suffers.
  4. by   Esme12
    At time I think we see this reflected by nurses, medics, MD's......or anyone inolved in the care of patients. I agree it disturbs the compassion, understanding and tolerance level of the nurses it effects.....

    quote] Most importantly, these caregivers ultimately experience a reduced capacity for, or interest in being empathic toward the suffering of others.]end quote

    great article!
  5. by   subee
    When I run into an a__h___ doctor, I take a deep breath with hands together and thanks G_d that I am not married to him and concentrate on empathizing with his family. Then it's time to move on, realize that this has nothing to do with YOU, it's part of the job and don't let others mess with your serenity. Save your unhappiness at work for the patients that deserve it.