Working in cancer care is stressful, where cancer health care professionals are exposed daily to the distress and suffering of patients with cancer. As a result of this exposure, health care professionals working in cancer care experience both compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue. Cancer health care professionals use empathy in their interactions with patients however, being empathic also increases experiences of compassion fatigue. Higher levels of emotional intelligence have been linked with lower levels of compassion fatigue. To date no studies have examined the relationships between professional quality of life, that is compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue, and the constructs of empathy and emotional intelligence in cancer health care professionals. The aim of this research is to examine the relationships between professional quality of life, empathy and trait emotional intelligence. A mixed methods explanatory sequential design was used over two phases. Data collection involved a survey (n =122), and semi-structured interviews (n=12). Quantitative data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences-22®. The semi-structured interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, and employed NVivo-12® to manage qualitative data. The results revealed that levels of secondary traumatic stress experienced by cancer health care professionals are high (28%). A second significant finding is that the trait emotional intelligence subscale of well-being was predictive of both compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue. Nurses and radiation therapists drew parallels with their own family when empathising with patients with cancer that may add to the nurses and radiation therapists’ personal distress. The nurses and radiation therapists constructed two types of cancer patient in their practice that impacted on their personal distress. Recommendations include the need for national policy to take the levels of compassion fatigue into consideration in work-force planning. Additionally, clinicians and educators need to implement empathy education and well-being strategies into practice and education initiatives. These recommendations will assist in improving cancer health care professional’s compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2021|
- Cancer, Healthcare Professionals, Empathy, Emotional Intelligence