AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Trauma Team Members Face Risk of Compassion Fatigue

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Research published in the Journal of Trauma Nursing found that trauma team members are at risk of compassion fatigue and burnout syndrome. The authors of the research identified stress triggers and made recommendations to help trauma teams cope with secondary traumatic stress. The researchers performed a focus group study with 12 trauma team members at a Level I trauma center. Participants discussed their positive and negative experiences in helping patients suffering from traumatic injury, specifically “compassion satisfaction” and “compassion fatigue,” respectively. Compassion fatigue is a condition of secondary stress seen in people who experience trauma indirectly. Previous research indicates that trauma team members suffering from compassion fatigue may be emotionally exhausted, depressed and anxious. Studies of compassion fatigue also mention burnout syndrome — defined as exhaustion, loss of interest, detachment and low levels of personal effectiveness. Trauma, emergency and critical care nurses are among the groups at high risk for both conditions. Although trauma team members reported compassion fatigue was an infrequent experience, their assessments during the study indicated presence of compassion fatigue and burnout. “This suggests trauma team members may not be as adept at managing work stressors as well as they perceive,” the researchers wrote. To read more about this study, click here.

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