We Grieve Too

One Inpatient Oncology Unit's Interventions for Recognizing and Combatting Compassion Fatigue

Katrina L. Fetter, RN, BSN, OCN


Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2012;16(6):559-561. 

In This Article

Effectiveness of the Program

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the interventions was conducted, in part, by observing staff behavior and informally discussing with staff about how things were progressing. The nursing staff verbalized an improved ability to recognize and talk about their thoughts and feelings related to the passing of patients.

In addition, a survey with open-ended questions was distributed to staff (N = 50) in February 2010; 25 staff members from all levels of nursing responded. Questions addressed if closure was being brought to staff, if the contents of the bereavement package were sufficient, and how families were responding. The majority of responses received were positive about all components addressed. Twenty-two of the respondents (88%) said that the initiatives helped bring them some closure. In addition, fiscal year 2011 showed an improved RN-only turnover rate of 7.5%, reflecting the helpfulness of the program in relation to the previous fiscal year.

The importance of defining CF and bringing heightened awareness to its symptoms cannot be stressed enough. The nursing staff needed to recognize and discuss CF to avoid it. Overall, the CF interventions have been overwhelmingly positive. They have brought the nursing unit closer together in many ways. Nurses can help maintain a long, healthy career in oncology by performing self-care and self-reflection, preventing or recognizing the onset of CF, and seeking guidance and support to limit its effects and prevent future occurrences.