A Conceptual Framework and Case Study Tactics to Address Compassion Fatigue

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It is in the best interest of oncology nursing practice that nurses understand compassion fatigue and implement interventions to address the subject. However, there is limited literature that identifies evidence-based strategies. An exception is a phenomenological study by Perry (2008) which addressed three main themes to avoid compassion fatigue: creating moments of connection; making moments matter; and, energizing moments. This presentation discusses each of these themes. Case studies from a 30-bed medical-surgical hematology/oncology unit in an academic, community Magnet™ hospital illustrate specific tactics within each of the three themes to avoid and/or mitigate compassion fatigue. Moments of connection happen when nurses in the study connected with their patients and families, enabling them to put themselves in the position of the person with cancer; nurses gained motivation and energy to offer exceptional care because they recognized those in their care could be themselves, family members and friends. The second theme - making moments matter – began by nurses valuing opportunities to establish meaningful relationships with patients. This led to avoiding compassion fatigue by appreciating fully the significant moments of the nurse-patient relationship. Energizing moments, the third theme, relates to a “zest for life” attitude; study nurses may have discovered that a positive response in difficult circumstances may prompt better outcomes. Though they could not always control their work environment, they could control their response to the circumstances. Case study tactics associated with these themes include: daily unit coffee and tea time between patients and staff, initiated by a patient for whom this was tradition within his home setting; non-denominational, spiritual meditation for staff and patients preceding the morning safety huddle; peer visitation among patients; and, staff participation in patient cultural rituals. The hematology/oncology unit’s most recent staff satisfaction scores associated with the conceptual framework themes exceed the data-base mean, including but not limited to: interprofessional relationships; organizational environment; RN-to RN teamwork and collaboration; employee autonomy; quality nursing care; incorporation of evidence-based care; and, partnering with patients/families to deliver individualized care. Compassion fatigue can prompt high nursing turnover, poor job satisfaction and compromised quality care. This conceptual framework and associated case study tactics can be adapted by oncology nurses in any setting to enhance their own resiliency through moments of connection, moments that matter and energizing moments.


Clinical Practice Poster Session.


Patient Care Services / Nursing, Patient Care Services / Nursing Faculty

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