Family caregivers significantly contribute to the provision of health care for their family members. This complex care can result in stress that may lead to both positive and negative consequences for the caregiver. Current literature tends to focus on negative consequences such as caregiver burden. Therefore, compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction are proposed as concepts that may better reflect the family caregiving experience. Compassion fatigue is comprised of two components; burnout and secondary traumatic stress. The purpose of this study was to examine the concept of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction among family caregivers and to explore the relationship between caregiver burden and compassion fatigue to determine which characteristics were predictive for the level of compassion fatigue. Using a cross sectional descriptive survey design with a convenience sample, 168 family caregivers providing care for family members with chronic illness completed a web based survey. The survey included a demographic questionnaire, the Caregiver Burden Interview, the Professional Quality of Life measure and the Brief COPE inventory. Results from this study revealed that the majority of participants reported a high level of caregiver burden, a moderate level of burnout, equal division of low and moderate levels of secondary traumatic stress, and a moderate level of compassion satisfaction. Analysis suggested that caregiver burden and compassion fatigue are similar, but distinct concepts and supported the use of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction as caregiving outcomes for family caregivers. Characteristics related to gender, caregiving demands, and caregiver resources resulted in differences found in compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction scores with caregiver burden as the primary predictor that explained a substantial amount of variance in compassion fatigue scores.
Level of Degree
College of Nursing
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
caregivers, compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction
Lynch, Susan. "The Family Caregiver's Experience: Examining the Positive and Negative Aspects of Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue Using a Stress Process Model." (2015). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/nurs_etds/29