OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Contributing Factors to the Development of Compassion Fatigue in Critical Care Nurses


Nursing has been rated the most trusting profession for almost two decades, and it is undoubtedly due to the nurse-patient relationship. However, this relationship comes at a price. For some, this toll forces them to quit the profession in its entirety. Compassion fatigue is an issue every nurse will face at some point in their career, yet for some specialties, such as critical care nursing, inevitably face it daily. This is due to the high stress levels accompanying caring for critically ill patients while simultaneously emotionally supporting patients and their families. Objective: The aim of this literature review is to examine how high workload, emotional exhaustion and reward imbalance contribute to compassion fatigue and how compassion fatigue levels can be decreased. Methodology: Using a systematic approach, we employed the databases CINAHL(EBSCOhost), PubMed(MEDLINE), Sage Journals Online and ScienceDirect, with CINAHL being the main database utilized. Keywords used are compassion fatigue in nurses, burnout, work environment and causes of stress, critical care nurses, trauma nurses, emergency department nurses. Inclusion Criteria: Peer-reviewed journal articles published within the last five years and written in the English language. Results: High workload is affected by lack of resources and high expectations. Emotional exhaustion is affected by low resilience and lack of coping abilities. Reward imbalance is affected by lack of recognition. Interventions vary, including helping nurses develop resilience and coping skills, while using reward systems. Conclusion: More research needs to be conducted on which interventions have the best outcomes while considering barriers to organizations, like finances.

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