Self-Compassion for Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in Caregivers : Journal of Nursing Research

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Self-Compassion for Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in Caregivers

HSIAO, Fei-Hsiu

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Journal of Nursing Research 31(1):p e251, February 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/jnr.0000000000000544
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Burnout and compassion fatigue are commonly experienced by nurses and caregivers due to their heavy burden of care. The self-care competency of nurses and caregivers influences not only their well-being but also their ability to provide high-quality care. In light of this need, the Resilience, Insight, Self-Compassion, and Empowerment (RISE) intervention was recently developed to help nurses effectively manage and reduce their perceived burnout and stress (Sawyer et al., 2021).

Neff (2023) articulated the concept of self-compassion as consisting of self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Self-kindness refers to a person’s tendency to care and understand the self rather than being self-critical or judgmental. Common humanity refers to one’s ability to understand that all humans are imperfect and subject to failure and making mistakes. Mindfulness refers to being aware of one’s feelings and thoughts, including painful feelings and all aspects of oneself and one’s life. In Neff’s research, self-compassion is related to the mental health of caregivers. Thus, cultivating self-compassion helps caregivers be empathetic toward themselves, be self-forgiving of their inevitable mistakes, and be self-loving and comforting when experiencing heavy care burdens.

The focus of the studies in this issue of The Journal of Nursing Research is on caregivers, including nurses, parents of children with cancer, family caregivers of patients with cognitive impairment, neighborhood care volunteers, and nursing assistants. These studies highlight that the burden of care is experienced not only by nurses but also by family caregivers and other helpers. Wang et al. shows how insufficient disaster preparedness may influence the mental health of nurses. Job-demand and psychological stresses were also found in Johnson et al’s study on palliative care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The self-care competency of nurses with regard to coping with heavy workloads, particularly in the context of pandemic response and care, is a crucial issue. In Kung’s study, volunteers were trained to provide neighborhood care to older adults in the community. In addition to professional skills, their competency in self-care is also needed to meet the health demands of those under their care. Thus, compassionate care programs must be developed for both professional and non-professional caregivers.


Neff K. D. (2023). Self-compassion: Theory, method, research, and intervention. Annual Review of Psychology. Advance online publication.
Sawyer A. T., Bailey A. K., Green J. F., Sun J., Robinson P. S. (2021). Resilience, Insight, Self-Compassion, and Empowerment (RISE): A randomized controlled trial of a psychoeducational group program for nurses. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Advance online publication.
Copyright © 2023 The Author. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.