Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Nursing




Kathleen Sternas, Ph.D

Committee Member

Jean Rubino, Ed.D

Committee Member

Jamesetta Halley-Boyce, Ph.D


Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, Compassion Satisfaction, Self-Transcendence, Oncology, Nurses


PROBLEM: Oncology nursing is an emotionally demanding profession where nurses witness repeated patient suffering and death placing them at risk for adverse emotional effects such as compassion fatigue (CF) and burnout (BO). Despite this risk, many oncology nurses describe an intense satisfaction with their work, known as compassion satisfaction (CS). Self-transcendence (ST) has been found to have protective abilities. This study purpose was to assess the prevalence of CF, BO, and CS among oncology nurses in theUnited States, and the relationships among ST and CF, BO, CS, and demographic factors.

METHODS: This descriptive correlational study consisted of a random sample of 405 nurse members of an oncology professional organization who provide direct patient care. Figley’s Compassion Fatigue and Reed’s Self-Transcendence theoretical frameworks guided the study. Instruments administered online via the Survey Monkey platform included: Professional Quality of Life Compassion Satisfaction, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout Subscales-Revision V; Self-transcendence Scale; and a demographic survey. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlational analyses, and analysis of variance (ANOVA). Level of significance was p<.05.

RESULTS: Study hypotheses were supported. There was a statistically significant negative correlation between ST and CF; a significant positive correlation between CF and BO; a significant negative correlation between ST and BO; and a significant positive correlation between ST and CS. Low levels of CF and BO with high levels of ST and CS suggest ST and CS are protective factors for CF and BO. Statistically significant relationships were found among CF, BO, CS, ST, and age, nursing experience, life stress, health rating, and religion/spirituality.

CONCLUSIONS: ST and CS may have protective abilities for oncology nurses at risk for CF and BO. Implications for nursing include the need for education, assessment, prevention, and health promotion interventions addressing CF and BO among oncology nurses. This study raises awareness of CF and BO in oncology nursing. Further research of ST and CS on CF and BO needs to be done. Future research should focus on development and evaluation of interventions which prevent and manage CF and BO and promote CS and ST in oncology nurses.