Addressing the Problem of Compassion Fatigue Among Nurses


The ability to empathize with patients and their health issues is one of the defining characteristics of a nurse. However, workplace pressure and an array of other factors may affect a nurse’s ability to show compassion to patients, thus, reducing the quality of care. An in-depth analysis of the factors that inhibit a nurse’s capability to empathize with patients is required. In their article, Wu Singh-Carlson, Odell, Reynolds, and Yuhua (2016) use quantitative analysis successfully to prove the connection between compassion satisfaction, its fatigue, and empathy, thus, calling for an appropriate intervention.

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Research Question: Compassion Fatigue, Empathy, and Compassion Satisfaction

Compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction, as well as the problem of workplace burnouts, are the subject of the authors’ study. Wu et al. (2016) ask the question of whether the phenomena of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction are linked to the problem of a workplace burnout in nurses. Furthermore, the authors study the effects of the specified issue on the quality of nursing. Thus, Wu et al. (2016) attempt at improving patient outcomes in the oncology department. The question can be seen as complex since it embraces both emotional and ethical aspects of nurses’ roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, the focus on three variables makes the study rather profound.

Research Design: Using the Quantitative Approach

Although the nature of the study seems to be qualitative given the need to locate the connection between the specified variables, Wu et al. (2016) prefer the quantitative design. The specified choice can be justified by the need to determine the exact effect of burnouts on compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction (Dikmen, Aydın, Tabakoğlu, 2016). The authors make a compromise by selecting a descriptive and non-experimental quantitative design. The key strength of the proposed framework is in the opportunities for locating the exact effect that the variables have on each other. However, the chosen research method does not provide a chance to explore the cause-and-effect connections in depth, which weakens the study slightly.

Sample: A Small Selection of Participants

The number of research participants that Wu et al. (2016) have chosen for their study is comparatively uneven. For a quantitative study, the selection of 486 American nurses and 63 Canadian ones can be viewed as the platform for underrepresenting the Canadian participants. However, the authors do not make further distinctions regarding the origins of their participants, which makes the specified decision acceptable. Belonging to the oncology department and having the responsibilities of a nurse were the key inclusion criteria.

Data Collection: Online Survey and Its Results

Collecting the data for the study that addresses the issue of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction in nurses is difficult in its nature due to the presence of a subjective factor. However, Wu et al. (2016) manage to handle the specified problem by deploying the Abendroth Demographic Questionnaire (ADQ) tool, which helps remove the element of subjectivity from the participants’ responses. Based on the principle of a Likert scale, the chosen framework helped to determine the general trend in the participants’ responses without making the study fall into extremes (Dikmen et al., 2016). Consequently, an adequate assessment of the problem became possible. The tool was used as an online assessment and allowed capturing the responses of all participants carefully.

Limitations: Sampling Concerns and Variable Analysis

As clarified above, the choice of the sampling technique can be seen as somewhat questionable. Due to the difference between the number of American and Canadian nurses in the research, the latter population may have been underrepresented in the course of the study. The introduction of two separate groups or a more balanced selection of research participants could have resolved the problem, yet the authors preferred to ignore the issue. As a result, the applicability of study outcomes may vary depending on the cultural context in which they are applied. In addition, the research is limited by the choice of the quantitative analysis. The incorporation of quantitative elements could have helped shed more light on the nature of compassion fatigue and its relation to workplace burnouts in nurses. Nevertheless, the study provides a detailed overview of the issue and proves the connection between the three variables successfully.

Findings: Compassion Fatigue Is Linked to the Lack of Empathy

According to Wu et al. (2016), compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction are connected directly to the degree of workplace burnout that a nurse develops over time. Furthermore, the research results indicate that the influence of the specified actors is reciprocal. Particularly, compassion and emotional involvement lead to the development of a burnout and the following emotional issues. Therefore, nurses require the therapy that will allow them to handle emotional challenges and develop the coping mechanism for addressing workplace challenges without feeling emotional distress. Finally, the authors of the study mention that, unless managed respectively, compassion fatigue and workplace burnouts may cause mental health disorders of different severity, ranging from minor stress to massive depression.

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Summary: Research and Its Implications

The research results call for the creation of a comprehensive strategy for addressing nurses’ needs. According to Wu et al. (2016), nurses need professional assistance and support to handle the challenges associated with workplace tension and stress. Therefore, a follow-up study exploring opportunities for creating an intervention for nurses suffering from workplace burnouts and compassion fatigue is essential. A program embracing the needs of nurses working in the oncology setting will help relieve the stress and provide the environment in which the target population can work efficiently.


Dikmen, Y., Aydın, Y., & Tabakoğlu, P. (2016). Compassion fatigue: A Study of critical care nurses in Turkey. Journal of Human Sciences, 13(2), 2879-2884. Web.

Wu, S., Singh-Carlson, S., Odell, A., Reynolds, G., & Yuhua, S. (2016). Compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction among oncology nurses in the United States and Canada. Oncology Nursing Forum, 43(4), E161-E169. Web.

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"Addressing the Problem of Compassion Fatigue Among Nurses." StudyCorgi, 10 July 2021,

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StudyCorgi. "Addressing the Problem of Compassion Fatigue Among Nurses." July 10, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Addressing the Problem of Compassion Fatigue Among Nurses." July 10, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Addressing the Problem of Compassion Fatigue Among Nurses'. 10 July.

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