Running on empathy: Relationship of empathy to compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue in cancer healthcare professionals

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Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study is to examine the relationship of empathy and professional quality of life in cancer healthcare professionals. Methods: A Professional Quality of Life instrument measuring compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue, and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index measuring empathy were distributed to healthcare professionals working in cancer care in the Republic of Ireland. Final analysis was conducted on 117 participants. Results: A quarter of participants experience high levels of compassion satisfaction, and a quarter are at risk of compassion fatigue. A positive correlation was found between personal distress and compassion fatigue, and a negative correlation was found between personal distress and compassion satisfaction. A positive correlation was found between empathic concern and secondary traumatic stress. Conclusion: These findings suggest that healthcare professionals working in cancer care are at risk of compassion fatigue. Also, healthcare professionals working in cancer care experience personal distress that may impact negatively on professional quality of life. Implications for practice include a need to identify those HCPs who are at risk of compassion fatigue. The implication for further research suggests further exploration of the impact of personal distress felt by cancer healthcare professionals during empathic engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13124
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • cancer healthcare professional
  • compassion fatigue
  • compassion satisfaction
  • empathy
  • personal distress
  • secondary traumatic stress

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