Article

The Psychic Costs of Empathic Engagement: Personal and Demographic Predictors of Genetic Counselor Compassion Fatigue

Journal of Genetic Counseling (Impact Factor: 1.75). 01/2008; 17(5):459-471. DOI: 10.1007/s10897-008-9162-3

ABSTRACT Empathic connection with one’s patients is essential to genetic counselor clinical practice. However, repeatedly engaging
with distressed patients may cause compassion fatigue, a phenomenon characterized as feeling overwhelmed by experiencing patients’
suffering. In order to extend findings of an initial qualitative study, we surveyed 222 genetic counselors about their compassion
fatigue and factors that predict its occurrence. Multiple regression analysis identified seven significant predictors accounting
for 53.7% of the variance in compassion fatigue. Respondents at higher risk of compassion fatigue were more likely to report
being burned out, using self-criticism and giving up to manage stress, experiencing a greater variety of distressing clinical
events, having larger patient caseloads, relying on religion as a coping strategy, having no children, and seeking support
to manage stress. Respondents also provided critical incidents regarding their compassion fatigue and themes in these incidents
are described. Practice and research recommendations are provided.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
51 Views
  • Source
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Advances in genetic technologies have resulted in the diagnosis during pregnancy of increasing numbers of fetal abnormalities. A few published personal commentaries have indicated that health professionals' interactions with couples at risk of a fetal abnormality can be emotionally and ethically challenging, highlighting the need for empirical research in this area. This study sought to explore whether working in the fetal medicine setting has an effect on health professionals and to ascertain any supports used to manage these effects. In-depth interviews were conducted with 40 medical and allied health professionals working in fetal medicine settings in Melbourne, Australia. Qualitative analysis of the interview data was performed using thematic analysis. Participants discussed at length the emotional impact of working with patients who were experiencing adverse pregnancy outcomes. All participants reported that working in fetal medicine had an impact on their daily lives, and many spoke about dreaming about or losing sleep over patient outcomes. Participants described working in this setting as being particularly difficult when they were pregnant themselves. Most spoke about feeling largely unsupported in their work and felt that these effects resulted in burnout and staff turnover. This study explored several work force concerns in fetal medicine. Health professionals working with couples at risk of a fetal abnormality are vulnerable to the phenomena of compassion fatigue and burnout. The need for formal support and self-care management is suggested. (BIRTH 40:1 March 2013).
    Birth 03/2013; 40(1):52-60. DOI:10.1111/birt.12029 · 2.93 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Compassion fatigue is a state of detachment and isolation experienced when healthcare providers repeatedly engage with patients in distress. Compassion fatigue can hinder empathy and cause extreme tension. Prior research suggests 73.8 % of genetic counselors are at moderate to high risk for compassion fatigue and approximately 1 in 4 have considered leaving the field as a result Injeyan et al. (Journal of Genetic Counseling, 20, 526-540, 2011). Empirical data to establish a reliable profile of genetic counselors at risk for compassion fatigue are limited. Thus the purpose of this study was to establish a profile by assessing relationships between state and trait anxiety, burnout, compassion satisfaction, selected demographics and compassion fatigue risk in practicing genetic counselors. Practicing genetic counselors (n = 402) completed an anonymous, online survey containing demographic questions, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Professional Quality of Life scale. Multiple regression analysis yielded four significant predictors which increase compassion fatigue risk (accounting for 48 % of the variance): higher levels of trait anxiety, burnout, and compassion satisfaction, and ethnicity other than Caucasian. Additional findings, study limitations, practice implications, and research recommendations are provided.
    Journal of Genetic Counseling 05/2014; DOI:10.1007/s10897-014-9716-5 · 1.75 Impact Factor