Compassion fatigue is a consequence of chronic work-related stress exposure among healthcare providers. Nursing is a high-risk, stressful profession which increases nurses’ vulnerability to compassion fatigue symptoms compared to other healthcare workers. Compassion fatigue has serious consequences for nursing staff, patients and healthcare organizations. Though several studies on the prevalence of compassion fatigue among nurses have been published, the reported data vary considerably across studies; and few meta-analysis have examined the prevalence of compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue among nurses with large sample sizes.
To systematically assess the prevalence of compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue among nurses, and to evaluate the effect of different geographical regions, years and departments on the prevalence of compassion fatigue.
Systematic review and meta-analysis
The Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMbase, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsyclNFO, China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database (CNKI), Wanfang Database, Weipu Database (VIP), and Chinese Biomedical Database (CBM) were searched in the systematic review. The time frame for the searches included all literature before January 31st, 2020.
The reviewers independently completed study selection, quality assessments, data extraction and analysis of all included literature. The mean scores and standard deviations of the three subscales of the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) scale were pooled using random effects meta-analysis in Stata 16.0 software package. Finally, subgroup analyses were conducted to explore the sources of between-study heterogeneity.
A total of 79 studies were included in the systematic review and meta-analysis, consisting of 28,509 nurses worldwide from 11 countries. In our studies, the pooled mean scores of compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary traumatic stress were 33.12 (95% CI: 32.22–34.03), 26.64 (95% CI: 26.01–27.27) and 25.24 (95% CI: 24.69–25.79), respectively. In addition, the Asian region had the lowest levels of compassion satisfaction but the highest levels of compassion fatigue symptoms, while the Americas and Europe had the lowest levels of compassion fatigue but highest compassion satisfaction. Levels of compassionate fatigue in nurses increased gradually from 2010 to 2019, reaching the highest level in 2019; and nurses from ICU had the highest levels of compassion fatigue symptoms among all nurses.
The levels of compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue among nurses are moderate. Nurses from the Asian region and in ICUs suffer from severe compassion fatigue symptoms, and the prevalence of compassion fatigue has increased over time. These findings may provide hospital administrators with the theoretical basis for the management and treatment of compassion fatigue.