Compassion fatigue among registered nurses: Connecting theory and research

Kate Sheppard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Unresolved compassion fatigue often causes physical and emotional exhaustion, and can significantly impair job performance. It is also known to cause increased absenteeism and even turnover among health care providers such as registered nurses. Often those experiencing compassion fatigue attempt to self-medicate in order to numb the intense emotions, and distance themselves from patients, colleagues, friends, and even family. This article describes the challenges of applying one widely used conceptual model to research among nurses who are at risk for experiencing this important and debilitating phenomenon. Through two qualitative studies that explored compassion fatigue among registered nurses, symptoms were identified that fit within the conceptual model. Several additional elements were not adequately captured by the conceptual model, and the term was perceived as being stigmatizing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-59
Number of pages3
JournalApplied Nursing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Compassion fatigue
  • Nursing health
  • Secondary traumatic stress
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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