Compassion Fatigue in Cancer Nursing: Limiting the Emotional Cost of Caring
Keywords:compassion fatigue, cancer nursing, emotional distress
A diagnosis of cancer is overly devastating to patients and their significant others, creating a tsunami of emotions, pain and suffering, with oncology nurses as focal point in the cancer tragedy. With the increasing burden of cancer, nurses in the field of oncology witness profound suffering while providing compassionate care. Providing compassionate care is satisfying but a point reaches where nurses’ may experience a diminution in compassionate ability, a state referred to as compassion fatigue. A state which has consequences not only for nurses themselves, but also for patient care and organizations’ productivity. While individual nurses should pay attention to self-care in order to protect themselves from compassion fatigue; nurse managers and hospital administrators should support them by creating a favourable workplace. Institutional strategies to prevent compassion fatigue include acknowledgement of existence of the phenomenon, education on coping strategies, on-site counselling services and fostering peer support.
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