Exploring the Interprofessional Contributions of Spiritual Health Practitioners to Prevent Compassion Fatigue in Nurses : Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing

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Exploring the Interprofessional Contributions of Spiritual Health Practitioners to Prevent Compassion Fatigue in Nurses

Hildebrand, Amy MSN, RN; Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl PhD, RN; Quinn, Barry PhD, RN

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Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing 42(4):p 223-233, 7/8 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/DCC.0000000000000587



Few studies in academic literature involve the application of a spiritual health intervention for the purpose of mitigating compassion fatigue in nurses.


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perspectives of Canadian spiritual health practitioners (SHPs) in their support for nurses to prevent compassion fatigue.


Interpretive description was utilized for this research study. Sixty-minute interviews with 7 individual SHPs were conducted. Data were analyzed with NVivo 12 software (QSR International, Burlington, Massachusetts). Thematic analysis identified common themes that allowed data from interviews, a pilot project on psychological debriefing, and a literature search to be compared, contrasted, and compiled.


The 3 main themes were found. The first theme highlighted the underlying issue of how spirituality is ranked or viewed within health care and the impact of leadership integrating spirituality in their practice. The second theme related to SHPs' perception of nurses' compassion fatigue and lack of connection to spirituality. The final theme explored the nature of SHP support to mitigate compassion fatigue before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Spiritual health practitioners are positioned in a unique role to be facilitators of connectedness. They are professionally trained to provide a type of in situ nurturing for patients and health care staff through spiritual assessments, pastoral counseling, and psychotherapy. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed an underlying desire for in situ nurturing and connectedness in nurses due to an increase in existential questioning, unusual patient circumstances, and social isolation leading to disconnectedness. Organizational spiritual values are recommended to be exemplified by those in leadership to create holistic, sustainable work environments.

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