Compassion Fatigue

Overcoming Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Pediatric Oncology

Project Leader: Angela Blackwell, MSN RN CNS CPON | Clinical Nurse Specialist

Institution: Children’s Hospital of Orange County, on behalf of the Hyundai Cancer Institute | Orange, California

Grant Type: APHON Evidence-Based Practice Grant

Year Awarded: 2019


Pediatric oncology nursing is considered a high-risk specialty due to the intense needs of patients and their families throughout the trajectory of their illness. Literature estimates as many as 60% of oncology staff have some form of burnout. As the frontline providers of care, pediatric oncology nurses are at high risk for burnout, compassion fatigue, and decreased compassion satisfaction. This can lead to difficulties in personal and professional relationships, decreased staff retention, and negative effects on patient safety. Many different programs have been developed to improve the well-being of pediatric oncology nurses and staff including education, staff debriefings, and Code Lavenders. These programs are shown to have a positive impact on nurses’ and provider’s well-being, especially when used in a multidimensional approach. Currently, there is little support available for nursing and caregivers who suffer the loss of a patient. We would like to examine, in the pediatric oncology caregiver population, how the implementation of a staff wellbeing program affects pediatric oncology nurse burnout, compassion fatigue, and compassion satisfaction over a one-year period. We plan to implement staff debriefings after patient death and Code Lavenders to be called on any staff member who appears in need of support. Prior to implementation, a Pro-QOL survey will be sent to all staff members with a follow-up survey sent out six months post-implementation to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. At the conclusion of each debriefing session, a voluntary survey will be administered, and attendance will be counted. An email survey will be sent for evaluation of the usefulness of the Code Lavender. Annual associate Engagement results will be compared from pre and post-implementation. We anticipate that the debriefings and Code lavenders will have a positive impact on the well -being of oncology staff.