Compassion fatigue in critical care nurses. An integrative review of the literature

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Saudi medical journal, 2019, 40 (11), pp. 1087 - 1097
Issue Date:
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OBJECTIVES: To provides a critical evaluation of current empirical evidence related to the prevalence, causes and outcomes of compassion fatigue among critical care nurses. Compassion fatigue is characterized the development of emotional, physical, and/or spiritual exhaustion as a result of working with traumatized individuals. METHODS: Data was collected using an integrated review framework via an advanced search of healthcare databases; namely, ProQuest, Science Direct, and CINAHL for research articles on compassion fatigue among nurses in critical care settings. Analysis was performed on the articles which met the inclusion criteria for this review (n=10) to identify the key themes and issues related to the compassion fatigue in critical care situations. Articles were assessed for quality and rigor using the Critical Appraisal Checklist for Analytical Cross-Sectional Studies. The search was limited to research studies undertaken from 2000 to 2018. RESULTS: The main findings to emerge from this integrative review was that the prevalence of compassion fatigue among nurses varied across the range of critical care settings. In terms of the causes and consequences of compassion fatigue, this review found work environment and nurse demographics such as age and years of experience, were predictors of compassion fatigue, and the factors mitigating compassion fatigue affects among critical nurse included leader and administrative support within the clinical setting and the coping strategies employed by the nurses. CONCLUSION: There is inconclusive evidence to identify unequivocal predictors of compassion fatigue among critical nurses. However, it is likely the onset of compassion fatigue among critical care nurses may be reduced with close monitoring of physical and emotional wellbeing in the critical care environment as well as through the provision of education to nurses to assist with the development of coping strategies to avoid compassion fatigue.
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