First Advisor

Mary Tanski

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Science and University Honors




Secondary traumatic stress, Emergency medical personnel -- Job stress, Emergency medical personnel -- Mental health, Compassion, Burn out (Psychology), Mental fatigue




Working with traumatized patients in the Emergency Department can compromise the well-being of the provider and the quality of patient care. Compassion Fatigue and burnout are two terms used to describe provider inability to cope with stress at work. However, compassion fatigue is a term specific to care providers and describes the emotional and psychological effects consequent to caring for traumatized patients, which leads to a reduced capacity to show compassionate care. Burnout, on the other hand, is consequent to cumulative stress and lack of accomplishment at work. This thesis seeks to focus on compassion fatigue and considers burnout to be a conceptual link that ties the root causes behind compassion fatigue to the work environment. I write this literature review with three aims in mind: The first is to attain a better understanding of the factors contributing to compassion fatigue, its symptoms, and the consequences of experiencing of compassion fatigue with emphasis on the need for more research. The second goal is to assess the most common instruments used to measure compassion fatigue in the work place. Lastly, my thesis concludes with interventions that had positive results or are potentially useful to mitigating the negative aspects of the work environment among providers. I found that all the instruments used to measure CF are only screening tools, and that more research is needed to understand the contributing factors as well as the role of certain personal characteristics in making a provider more or less prone to compassion fatigue.


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