Compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue in Australian emergency nurses: A descriptive cross-sectional study

Erin L. O'Callaghan, Louisa Lam, Robyn Cant, Cheryle Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Emergency nurses are at risk of compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue caused by exposure to suffering may compromise the individual's personal wellbeing and reduce work efficiency. Methods: A quantitative cross-sectional survey with open responses was conducted using the Professional Quality of Life: Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue (ProQOL) scale and open-ended questions. Responses from a convenience sample of 86 nurses from two hospital emergency departments in Victoria, Australia, were analysed. Results: The median score for Compassion Satisfaction was 78% with all nurses reporting average to high scores. Most had average levels of Compassion Fatigue: Burnout median score was 53% and Secondary Traumatic Stress median score 49%. No statistically significant correlation was found between scales nor with influencing demographic characteristics. A qualification in emergency nursing was predictive of Compassion Satisfaction. Six descriptive job-associated factors contributed to nurses’ stress: human resources, the organisation, job-specific components, patient mix and professional and personal components. Conclusion/s: Average to high levels of Compassion Satisfaction and low to average levels of Compassion Fatigue were found in emergency nurses. Issues contributing to stress were work and role related. An understanding of these stressors may help nurses and nurse managers to ameliorate emergency nurses’ levels of stress and help limit staff burnout.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100785
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Emergency Nursing
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Burnout
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Compassion satisfaction
  • Emergency department
  • Emergency nurses
  • Secondary traumatic stress

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