Varying healthcare systems between countries may create different work conditions for staff. The article examines the relationships between the demographic attributes and secondary traumatic stress, burnout, or satisfaction in a sample of American versus Canadian nurses in the oncology unit (Wu, Singh-Carlson, Odell, Reynolds, & Su, 2016). From the results, the prevalence of these three variables was the same in the two samples, while perceived team cohesion was significant. Creating healthy oncology environments and psychosocial support are recommended for reducing these stressors. The purpose of this paper is to examine, analyze, critique, and summarize this article as a useful material in evidence-based nursing practice. Caring for cancer patients with complex needs, using high-tech medical equipment, and handling concerned families can have a psychological burden on oncology nurses. Determining the variables precluding these stressors can help improve their clinical outcomes.
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In this research, self-reported data obtained through online surveys were used to determine the relationships between the demographic attributes of the nurses and the three variables examined. The study included two research questions. The first one focuses on the demographic, individual, health-related, and workplace factors causing compassion fatigue and burnout in oncology units. In my observation, this question is well framed to capture the common stressors and predisposing variables. Consistent with the topic of the study, the second one seeks to compare compassion fatigue, burnout, and satisfaction between American and Canadian nurses. The trends affecting this question are the dissimilar healthcare systems and diverse models of care in the US and Canada.
The study used a descriptive, nonexperimental design. This approach allowed the researchers to collect quantitative data using online survey instruments: the modified Abendroth Demographic Questionnaire and the ProQOL tool (Wu et al., 2016). The respondents were practicing oncology nurses. The main strengths of this design include it is a non-invasive, insightful approach, hence, useful when studying life experiences and yields a broad view of the topic (Farrimond, 2013). However, risks of human error in data collection, subject confidentiality, and subjectivity are its weaknesses. The authors may have utilized this design because the independent variables (compassion fatigue, burnout, and satisfaction) are subjective experiences that cannot be manipulated experimentally.
The sample size used for this study was 549 participants drawn from the US (n= 486) and Canada (n= 63) (Wu et al., 2016). It included oncology nurses who are current members of professional organizations in the two countries. This sample size, especially the Canadian cohort, was not adequate because the membership of professional (oncology-nursing) organizations is considerable (>37,000). The number of participants who completed the surveys was 549. This figure seems adequate to answer the first research question (identifying common stressors) but not the second one (comparing relationships between the US and Canada). In particular, the Canadian cohort (n=63) was too small owing to non-response. Follow-up emails can help increase the response rate.
Data Collection Methods
The study involved self-reported data. Therefore, neither the researcher nor the professional organizations involved in participant recruitment collected the data. Two tools were used. The first one was the Abendroth Demographic Questionnaire for obtaining demographic and occupational information. The second tool was the ProQOL scale for measuring stress, burnout, and satisfaction (Wu et al., 2016). The ethical consideration of confidentiality was addressed through online surveys and coding of responses. Participants had the option of withdrawing from the study during data collection. However, it is not clear how informed consent was sought in this study.
Limitations of the Study
The limitations reported in the study include a small sample (Canadian cohort) and the lack of a male participant, reducing its external validity. Subsequent studies on a similar topic should involve the specific hospitals or oncology units in addition to professional organizations in the recruitment process to obtain a more representative sample. Weekly follow-up emails will also reduce non-response. Listing and discussing limitations within a study help contextualize and interpret the credibility of the findings as reliable evidence for use in practice.
From the results, the demographic profiles of the respondents from the US and Canada were the same. Self-reported prevalence of secondary traumatic stress, burnout, and satisfaction was also similar between the two cohorts. Perceived team cohesion was significant in the samples. Thus, these findings answered the two research questions of the study. The use of the professional organizations in recruitment and the self-reported data reduced researcher bias, making the findings more credible. However, the small sample that lacked a male respondent affected the generalizability of the results.
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The article reviewed examined the relationships between demographic attributes and secondary traumatic stress, burnout, or satisfaction in American versus Canadian nurses. It involved self-reported data obtained using online surveys. Consistent with the research questions, the study found that the prevalence of the three variables examined is the same and perceived team cohesion is significant. These findings have a high probability of being implemented in practice to create supportive oncology units as a buffer to common stressors. However, given the small sample size and limited variables (the consequences of fatigue/burnout are not explored), they may not suggest a practice change. In conclusion, interventions that reduce the professional stress that oncology nurses experience are required to reduce turnover and improve quality.
Farrimond, H. (2013). Doing ethical research. NY, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
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.