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Open AccessReview

Compassion Fatigue among Healthcare, Emergency and Community Service Workers: A Systematic Review

by Fiona Cocker 1,* and Nerida Joss 2
1
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health (MonCOEH), Monash University, Prahran 3004, Australia
2
Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Cary Cooper
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(6), 618; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13060618
Received: 15 April 2016 / Revised: 31 May 2016 / Accepted: 16 June 2016 / Published: 22 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occupational Stress, Human Health and Wellbeing)
Compassion fatigue (CF) is stress resulting from exposure to a traumatized individual. CF has been described as the convergence of secondary traumatic stress (STS) and cumulative burnout (BO), a state of physical and mental exhaustion caused by a depleted ability to cope with one’s everyday environment. Professionals regularly exposed to the traumatic experiences of the people they service, such as healthcare, emergency and community service workers, are particularly susceptible to developing CF. This can impact standards of patient care, relationships with colleagues, or lead to more serious mental health conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression. A systematic review of the effectiveness of interventions to reduce CF in healthcare, emergency and community service workers was conducted. Thirteen relevant studies were identified, the majority of which were conducted on nurses (n = 10). Three included studies focused on community service workers (social workers, disability sector workers), while no studies targeting emergency service workers were identified. Seven studies reported a significant difference post-intervention in BO (n = 4) or STS (n = 3). This review revealed that evidence of the effectiveness of CF interventions in at-risk health and social care professions is relatively recent. Therefore, we recommend more research to determine how best to protect vulnerable workers at work to prevent not only CF, but also the health and economic consequences related to the ensuing, and more disabling, physical and mental health outcomes. View Full-Text
Keywords: compassion fatigue; secondary trauma; interventions; risk factors; health; emergency; community service workers compassion fatigue; secondary trauma; interventions; risk factors; health; emergency; community service workers
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cocker, F.; Joss, N. Compassion Fatigue among Healthcare, Emergency and Community Service Workers: A Systematic Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 618.

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