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Intervening to Improve Compassion Fatigue Resiliency in Forensic Nurses

Flarity, Kathleen DNP, PhD, CEN, CFRN, FAEN; Nash, Kim RN, SANE-A, SANE-P; Jones, Whitney PhD; Steinbruner, Dave MD

Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal: April/June 2016 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 147–156
doi: 10.1097/TME.0000000000000101
Cases of Note

Evidence suggests that forensic nurses (FNs) may be predisposed to compassion fatigue (CF) as a result of the challenges of the profession including high caseloads, role ambiguity, prosecution goals, vicarious traumatization, attending to survivors' emotional needs, and empowering victims. The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine the prevalence of CF in a convenience sample of 55 FNs and examine the treatment effectiveness of a multifaceted education program in an intervention subset. The intervention was intended to increase compassion satisfaction (CS) and decrease CF symptoms in FNs in one organization who participated in the training. The hypothesis was that the FNs will have moderate to high CF and moderate to high CS and the CF intervention will add in CF prevention and resiliency as measured with an improvement in the Professional Quality of Life test scores (B. H. Stamm, 2010a). In the prevalence sample, 69% of the FNs had moderate to low CS, 73% had moderate to high burnout, and 73% had moderate to high levels of secondary traumatic stress (STS). In the intervention group, the education program resulted in a statistically significant increase in CS and decreases in STS symptoms.

Memorial Hospital, University of Colorado Health, Colorado Springs (Drs Flarity and Steinbruner and Ms Nash); and University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora (Dr Jones).

Corresponding Author: Kathleen Flarity, DNP, PhD, CEN, CFRN, FAEN, Memorial Hospital, University of Colorado Health, 1400 E Boulder St, Colorado Springs, CO, 80908, (

This study was funded in part by the Colorado Nurses Foundation.

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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