The role of psychological factors in oncology nurses' burnout and compassion fatigue symptoms

Joana Duarte, José Pinto-Gouveia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose This study explored the role of several psychological factors in professional quality of life in nurses. Specifically, we tried to clarify the relationships between several dimensions of empathy, self-compassion, and psychological inflexibility, and positive (compassion satisfaction) and negative (burnout and compassion fatigue) domains of professional quality of life. Methods Using a cross-sectional design, a convenience sample of 221 oncology nurses recruited from several public hospitals filling out a battery of self-report measures. Results Results suggested that nurses that benefit more from their work of helping and assisting others (compassion satisfaction) seem to have more empathic feelings and sensibility towards others in distress and make an effort to see things from others' perspective. Also, they are less disturbed by negative feelings associated with seeing others' suffering and are more self-compassionate. Nurses more prone to experience the negative consequences associated with care-providing (burnout and compassion fatigue) are more self-judgmental and have more psychological inflexibility. In addition, they experience more personal feelings of distress when seeing others in suffering and less feelings of empathy and sensibility to others' suffering. Psychological factors explained 26% of compassion satisfaction, 29% of burnout and 18% of compassion fatigue. Conclusion We discuss the results in terms of the importance of taking into account the role of these psychological factors in oncology nurses' professional quality of life, and of designing nursing education training and interventions aimed at targeting such factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-121
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun 1
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychology

Free keywords

  • Burnout
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Compassion satisfaction
  • Empathy
  • Oncology nursing
  • Psychological (in)flexibility
  • Self-compassion


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