Compassion fatigue and burnout in nursing : a systematic literature review.
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
Nursing professionalism is based on competency of care in therapeutic relationships. Constantly changing caring environments demand nurses adapt to new technology, work with health care systems and develop and maintain professional relationships. A fundamental element of nursing professionalism requires a compassionate attitude towards the caring role. Despite these important points, some nurses may experience compassion fatigue due to indirect traumatic events for a short time or burnout which is caused by chronic stress over an extended period. Both stressful experiences can cause emotional exhaustion which often leads directly to compassion fatigue and further, may develop into chronic burnout. These conditions can threaten nurses’ wellbeing and professionalism as well as patients’ safety due to substandard care, depersonalisation and staff retention rates. Despite the potential impact of compassion fatigue and burnout, lack of awareness and confusing definitions mean that the significance is quite often overlooked which may negatively influence nurses’ ability to deliver quality care. Through this systematic review, concise definitions of these two concepts will be investigated according to different theories. The prevalence of the two conditions will be examined by comparison and contrast between international and the New Zealand literature in order to understand the concepts of compassion fatigue and burnout as well as to explore the effective interventions for New Zealand nurses.