Critical care nurse insight into perceived compassion fatigue: A Photovoice study

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Critical care nurses can experience compassion fatigue (CF) as the state of emotional and physical exhaustion resulting from exposure to unavoidable workplace stressors in the scope of carrying out their duty to suffering patients. Critical care nurses in various high intensity patient care areas have been found to have CF at concerning levels. The problem is that the presence of CF threatens to limit the critical care nurse's capacity to fully participate in providing compassionate care with patients and to undermine the essence of professional nursing practice/ Photovoice, a participatory action research methodology, was used to examine CF through the nurse's voice and images. Through thematic analysis of data gathered from interviews, focus group discussion and visual images of photos taken by participants with written meanings, new knowledge was gained concerning CF in critical care nurses. Three themes were identified: Before nurse work-anticipatory CF triggers; During nurse work-inescapable CF triggers; and After nurse work-incessant CF triggers. Findings suggest critical care nurses experience CF from work factors of which they have either no control nor adequate resources to help cope with CF.

compassion fatigue, critical care nurses, intermediate care nurses, emergency care nurses, photovoice