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The Effectiveness of an Educational Program on Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue in Emergency Nurses

Flarity, Kathleen DNP, PhD, CEN, CFRN, FAEN; Gentry, J. Eric PhD, LMHC, CAC; Mesnikoff, Nathan MA, BCCC

doi: 10.1097/TME.0b013e31829b726f
Cases of Note

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the treatment effectiveness of a multifaceted education program to decrease compassion fatigue (CF) and burnout (BO) symptoms and increase compassion satisfaction of emergency nurses participating in the training. The goal of the CF multifaceted intervention program was to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in the 3 CF subscales: an increase on the Compassion Satisfaction (CS) subscale and a decrease on the Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) and BO subscales in the participants' pretest and posttest scores as measured by The Professional Quality of Life test (B. H. Stamm, 2010a, 2010b). The study sites were 2 emergency departments in Colorado Springs, CO. A convenience sample consisted of emergency nurses who self-selected to participate in the study. Univariate statistics were used, and data were examined for normalcy of distribution. Because these data were not distributed normally, Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to evaluate the differences between the baseline and postintervention groups. The multifaceted education program resulted in a statistically significant increase in CS (p = 0.004) and a decrease in BO (p = 0.001 or less) and STS (p = 0.001) symptoms.

Memorial Hospital, University of Colorado Health, Colorado Springs (Dr Flarity and Mr Mesnikoff); Office of the Surgeon General, Headquarter U.S. Air Force, Washington, District of Columbia (Dr Flarity); and Compassion Unlimited, Tampa, Florida (Dr Gentry).

Corresponding Author: Kathleen Flarity, DNP, PhD, CEN, CFRN, FAEN, Emergency Department, Memorial Hospital, 1400 E Boulder, Colorado Springs, CO 80909 (kflarityr@aol.com).

This study was funded in part by the Colorado State Emergency Nurses Association, Colorado Nurses Foundation, and the Memorial Health Auxiliary. The funding provided Certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist training for the primary and third authors, paid the emergency nurses to attend the program, and provided the multimedia material to the participants.

Disclosure: Dr. Flarity and Mr. Mesnikoff report no conflicts of interest. Dr Gentry has a private consulting and psychotherapy practice teaching certified compassion fatigue training and treating compassion fatigue.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.