The Concept Of Compassion Fatigue

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State of the Science Paper:
Compassion Fatigue
Katelyn Anderson
Fairleigh Dickinson University

A concept can be a word, an abstract or concrete thought, a phrase, or a symbolic statement. “Concepts are formulated in words that enable people to communicate their meanings about realities in the world and give meaning to phenomena that can directly or indirectly be seen, heard, tasted, smelled or touched” (McEwen & Wills, 2014, p. 50). Concepts are the start of an idea, which can lead to a thesis, research development, and eventually cause a change. Concepts are vital for the development of nursing practice and for our patients, so that we can provide the best and most appropriate care. The purpose of this paper is to
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This unique concept was identified in 1992 by Carla Joinson, a nurse, who identified compassion fatigue by studying emergency room personnel. It was defined as, “a unique form of burnout that affects individuals in caregiving roles” (Lombardo & Eyre, 2011). In 1995, there were developments within compassion fatigue and the term secondary traumatic stress disorder (STSD) was formed synonymously. The caring and empathetic relationships, which nurses strive to build with their patients, can become overwhelming and have the potential to lead to compassion fatigue. As nurses, we have an innate ability to care for others. Because of this, we find that we have put others before ourselves, which makes for compassionate and empathetic nursing care, but can lead to internal downfalls. There is a shift for the nurse, when providing nurturing care for patients becomes difficult. The downfalls are seen after repeated exposure to stressful work environments, work overload, lack of recognition and the repeated exposure to patients suffering, which nurses attempted to relieve. With advancements in healthcare, prolonging of life, increasing physical and emotional needs from patients and their families and the aging of American, nurses have an increase in stressors and demands. Sabo (2011) discusses certain personality characteristics which can lead to compassion fatigue. Some being type A personalities,
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