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Compassion fatigue threatens patient safety and quality of care, but it can be addressed with meaningful recognition of the contributions of nursing staff, according to a recent report.
The researchers studied 726 ICU nurses in 14 hospitals with meaningful recognition programs. They also studied 410 nurses in 10 hospitals that did not.
According to material cited in the study, younger nurses and those with less work experience are more likely to suffer.
That earlier research found ties to low levels of support from management and working in environments considered “high risk.” Nurses suffering compassion fatigue are more likely to quit their jobs, the study notes. Nearly 20% of nurses leave the profession in the first year, they noted.
The researchers found that “similar levels of burnout, secondary traumatic stress, compassion satisfaction, overall satisfaction, and intent to leave were reported by nurses” regardless of whether the hospital had a meaningful recognition program.
However, “meaningful recognition was a significant predictor of decreased burnout and increased compassion satisfaction. Job satisfaction and job enjoyment were highly predictive of decreased burnout, decreased secondary traumatic stress, and increased compassion satisfaction,” they reported. (The full study is available online at: http://bit.ly/2k9gSbu.)
The research shows that meaningful recognition has a significant effect on nurses, says study author Lesly A. Kelly, RN, PhD, assistant professor at Arizona State University in Phoenix.
“Nurses who have been recognized have lower burnout and have higher compassion satisfaction,” she says. “It’s not necessarily even getting the award. It can be just getting the nomination. Either way, the key is to make it meaningful within the community of that nurse and the people he or she works with, with a recognition ceremony for the award recipient and also letting the others know that they were nominated and giving them some sign of that, like a pin they can wear on their badge.”
Kelly notes that there is a connection between compassion fatigue, meaningful recognition, and quality of care.
“This is about creating a healthy work environment, and it has been shown that when nurses practice in a healthy work environment they are able to produce better outcomes for patients,” Kelly says. “Meaningful recognition is one part of a healthy work environment.”