Burnout in the Work of a Nurse

Table of Contents


Compassion fatigue and burnout are two natural work-related consequences for an oncology nurse. It disrupts the high quality of services which the oncology nurse provides (Barbour, 2016). Hence, it is important to understand the roots of compassion fatigue and burnout as well as general understanding of how it develops. The paper analyzes the findings of the research and to evaluate the evidence regarding nursing practice. Due to the fact that it is a serious issue which influences the professional activity of oncology nurses and their relationships with the patients, the research and its results have to be considered and applied if proven useful.

Research Question

The research in the article focuses primarily on experience of compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction. These aspects have a severe toll on nurses’ welfare and performance, as they have to encounter depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders because of the nature of cancer. Unlike other nurses who face other diseases, oncology nurses have to encounter high mortality rates among patients due to cancer’s aggressiveness (Wu et al., 2016). Therefore, oncology nurses have an extremely high probability of having compassion fatigue and burnout. The problem is that compassion, empathy, and compassion satisfaction are essential qualities of the nurse. Thus, these issues directly interrupt the work of nurse and decrease one’s quality of services.

Research Design

The nurses had to fill in questionnaires and evaluate their personal experience of encountering burnout. Apart from that, they also had to provide the data on their age, ethnicity, health, personal stress factors, and work-related challenges/achievements (Barbour, 2016). The information received was analyzed to determine certain correlations and connections between various factors (Wu et al., 2016). The major strength of the research design is its simplicity and flexibility, as nurses had to fill in online forms whenever they can. However, personal interviews could have been better for the analysis of the question.


The sample for the research is pretty impressive. Overall, nearly 550 oncology nurses participated in questionnaires which is a big sample. Taking into account that there are not a lot of the oncology nurses in the US, compared to the size of ordinary practicing nurses, it is a big source of information (Wu et al., 2016). In fact, the sample is enough for this type of research, as it clearly represents all of the groups who are involved in this activity.

Data Collection Method

Abendroth Demographic Questionnaire is the primary tool which is used for the research. As a matter of fact, it utilizes a set of questions which reveal the identity of the individual, data on personal and professional background of the individual and the status of the nurse in society (Wu et al., 2016). The tool is designed to gather a comprehensive block of information which describes the professional role of the nurse and the personality who is behind. Apart from that, the questionnaires also helped to reveal the needs for compassion among nurses.


Even though there are nurses in the research from Canada, still their number is not as significant as their American colleagues. Hence, the information about Canadian oncology nurses is not as comprehensible as the analysis of American nurses and their experience. It is possible to say that their experiences might be similar to a certain degree (Wu et al., 2016). Furthermore, the absolute majority of the respondents are females, while males did not participate as actively. Thus, it is appropriate to state that this research might not represent an accurate depiction of compassion fatigue among males.

The research reveals several correlations between oncology nursing and compassion fatigue and burnout. The younger the nurse is, the higher chances one has to receive burnout; however, there are not a lot of nurses who experienced the burnout and fatigue at the age of 35 and younger. In other words, only nurses aged 35 and above experienced serious issues with compassion fatigue and satisfaction (Wu et al., 2016). This is a result of years of experiencing the similar tragic situations over and over again. At the same time, older nurses show better skills at handling compassion fatigue and burnout compared to younger nurses.


Furthermore, there is a clear correlation between education and compassion satisfaction. It is a result of clear improvement of the understanding of the patient. Nurses as personalities naturally have satisfaction from helping others mentally or physically. Therefore, education and professional practice only encourage them to be even more compassionate and obtain more satisfaction from assisting others (Wu et al., 2016). It improves a process of treatment and relationships between nurses and patients. Compassion satisfaction also might influence compassion fatigue as the nurses might not gain the same satisfactory experience from a dying patient. Oncology nurses might become depressed because of that, and their performance will decrease respectively.

Burnout and compassion fatigue are serious obstacles for the oncology nurses since these factors have a severe impact on the professional activity of the nurse. At the same time, the oncology nurse directly faces the risks of burnout every day, as high mortality rates among patients are one of the major reasons for the development of compassion fatigue. Education and experience of the nurses are two elements which might prevent compassion fatigue and increase compassion satisfaction.


Barbour, L. (2016). Exploring oncology nurses’ grief: A self-study. Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing, 3(3).

Wu, S., Singh-Carlson, S., Odell, A., Reynolds, G., & Yuhua, S. (2016). Compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction among oncology nurses in the United States and Canada. Oncology Nursing Forum, 43(4), 161-169.

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