Motivation and compassion satisfaction of volunteer bereavement photographers: a mixed methods study

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Research into the use of bereavement photography is limited and the experiences of volunteer photographers remains understudied. For families with perinatal loss, bereavement photography allows for lasting mementos of a child and facilitates the maintenance of continuing bonds. This study investigated bereavement photographers’ reasons for volunteering, factors predicting their compassion satisfaction, and the support and retention of volunteer photographers. Utilizing a mixed methods design, 141 Australian and New Zealand volunteer bereavement photographers completed the Volunteer Motivation Inventory. The strongest motivators for volunteering related to Values, Reciprocity and Recognition. The results concur with other research showing altruistic motivation has the greatest influence on becoming a volunteer in end of life services. Moderate to high levels of Compassion Satisfaction were found on the Professional Quality of Life Scale Version 5. Support from the volunteering organization and a higher number of photography sessions with families predicted higher Compassion Satisfaction. Additionally, 31 photographers participated in semi-structured interviews. Motivators for volunteering identified by the thematic analysis were: Giving Back, Being Appreciated, Healing Past Grief, and Satisfaction with the Organization. Overall, the findings suggested that providing sensitive supportive care, experiencing positive interactions with families, feeling supported, and having a sense of purpose led to higher levels of CS.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • bereavement
  • compassion satisfaction
  • Perinatal loss
  • photography
  • trauma
  • volunteer motivation

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