Sample Research Article Critique on Experiences of Compassion Fatigue

The research article is about the experiences of compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction in nursing, specifically in the field of oncology (Odell et al., 2015). Cancer is a serious condition; therefore, concern for the wellbeing of both patients and nurses who take care of them is warranted. Alleviating pain and suffering is at the core of the field of nursing, which implies the significance of compassion, kindness, and competency in the process. While the desire to offer quality care drives nurses, oncology nursing poses greater challenges to fulfill the desired dream. According to statistics, (Odell et al., 2015) oncology nurses are especially susceptible to occupational stress due to the extreme conditions in which they operate. Compassion fatigue and burnout have prominently featured in reports of work-related consequences for nursing professionals. The former occurs when a nurse fails to save a patient from harm, which leaves him/her depressed. On the contrary, the latter is when a nurse fails to reach a certain goal, which results in frustration. Compassion satisfaction is the positive feeling developed after offering care. Burnout is caused by external factors such as increased workload and resource constraints (Odell et al., 2015). The research aimed at examining the experiences of compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction among nurses in the field of oncology, as well as identifying differences in these experiences among the nurses in Canada and the United States (Odell et al., 2015).

Research Question

The first research question intended to identify demographic, health, personal, and work-related factors that put nurses in the U.S. and Canada at higher risk of developing compassion fatigue and burnout. Oncology nurses tend to create healthy, close relationships with patients and their family members. Therefore, these professionals are subjected to intense emotional burden when the patients experience critical conditions or even death. The healthcare sector is also experiencing institutional and political challenges, such as inadequate resources, workload, and limited management support, which aggravates the experiences of compassion fatigue and burnout among oncology nurses (Odell et al., 2015). The second research question was to establish the connection between compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction among oncology nurses in the united states and Canada.

Research Design

The researchers employed a quantitative methodology, which involved the use of surveys to gather data. Quantitative research enables fast collection and analysis of data. Additionally, the repeated data provided in this type of research are reliable and convenient for future surveys. Conversely, quantitative research design limits a study’s ability to examine answers since the participants can easily provide inaccurate information. The researchers chose this design based on the principle of the concepts of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which establishes that motivations rely on certain needs, and Watson’s Theory of Human Caring, which highlights the relationship between the provision of care between professionals and patients (Odell et al., 2015).


The study involved oncology nurses in Canada and America. The participants were affiliated to the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology (CANO) as well as the Oncology Nursing Society. The sample of the study consisted of 63 Canadian and 486 American oncology nurses.  Demographics were similar between the two cohorts, and the majority were Caucasian non-Hispanic, females, age between 51-60, and married. There was no male participant from Canada. All participants had Bachelor’s degrees, were RNs, and had satisfactory nursing experience. The notable difference between Canadian and American participants was the nursing experience; most the American nurses had an experience of 2-5 years while the Canadians had 21-25 years.

Data Collection

The process of data collection was approved by the California State University, Long Beach. The tools used to gather data were version 5 of the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) scale and the modified Abendroth Demographic Questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed to collect health, demographic, environmental, and work-related information. The ProQOL scale measures secondary traumatic stress, compassion satisfaction, and burnout. Compassion fatigue is achieved by combining secondary traumatic stress and burnout and compassion satisfaction. The responses from participants were entered into SPPS Version 22.0. The chi-square test of independence was used to establish any significant connection between personal stressors, health, demographic, and work-related factors, and Compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue.


The small number of participants from Canada limits the reliability of the data. The small percentage does not provide adequate experiences of oncology nurses in Canada. Another limiting factor was the absence of male participants. Including the experiences of male nurses in the study is significant due to the growing number of male nurses. According to Jaslow, as cited in Odell et al. (2015), males may experience compassion fatigue and burnout differently compared to their femalecounterparts. The age difference was another notable factor that could limit the credibility of the research. This study did not capture experiences from smaller age groups. It is, therefore, important to conduct separate research targeting older experienced nurses and younger ones. Other options, including education level and leadership positions, can be considered to enhance the effectiveness of the study. Identifying limitations of research studies is important because it allows for the improvement of future studies to achieve more accurate researches.


The research identified the significance of team cohesiveness in the nursing practice. Nurses in healthy work environments reported fewer incidences of compassion fatigue and burnout. Participants who indicated that their workplace functions cohesively reported low levels of compassion fatigue and burnout. According to the research findings, teamwork, positive leadership, and effective mentoring on oncology nurses are required since it only delivers compassion satisfaction but also increases staff retention. The research also identified a connection between participants who reported high compassion fatigue and burnout, and depression, or PTSD. The study revealed the need to explore healthcare structuring and care delivery modes by future researches.

Main Points

Nurses are motivated by the desired to alleviate pain and suffering through quality care. Compassion, care, and kindness are important elements required to achieve this goal. While all nurses are exposed to environments that can limit their practice in this line, those in oncology are highly vulnerable to emotional distress due to the nature of cancer. Other factors, such as workload, resource constraints, and personal issues can aggravate the oncology nurses’ risk of experiencing compassion fatigue and burnout. The research, which involved oncology nurses in Canada and America, revealed the important of cohesiveness in the workplace. Nurses who worked in a healthy environment recorded low compassion fatigue and burnout. Teamwork, positive leadership, and mentorship are important elements in creating healthy, cohesive environments, which can reduce the experiences of compassion fatigue and burnout among oncology nurses. The research findings can be used to create institutional changes. New policies and guidelines can be established to ensure psychological support for oncology nurses.





Odell, A., Reynolds, G., Singh-Carlson, S., Su, Y., & Wu, S. (2015, Sep 17). Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Compassion Satisfaction among Oncology Nurses in the United States and Canada. ONF, 43(4). Retrieved from doi: 10.1188/16.ONF.E161-E169