Compassion Fatigue Essay

1431 words - 6 pages

Compassion Fatigue
James Stangle
2.1.2013
Compassion Fatigue
This paper will discuss the problem surrounding compassion fatigue as related to health care providers and their causes. Further discussion will include ways to recognize health care provider compassion fatigue by dialoging specific warning signs that are present before compassion fatigue sets in. Concepts regarding the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of the health care provider will be discussed including the importance of fulfilling the discussed needs. Lastly, coping strategies will be discussed including available resources that can be used by health care providers to help thwart the onset of compassion fatigue.
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The first and possibly the most important instrument in the tool belt of prevention is that of recognition of warning signs.
Warning signs
Warning signs are an ever-present part of all aspects of our lives trials and tribulations. As part of warning sign recognition for health care provider compassion fatigue, it is important to look at stressors. “Analysis shows that job stressors all relate positively to destructive stress coping strategies” (Chen, Lin, Wang, & Hou, 2009). Analysation of job stressors that contribute to compassion fatigue and their related warning signs may lead to the realization of preventing compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue falls into 5 categories of signs and symptoms including cognitive, emotional, behavioral, spiritual and somatic (Portnoy, 2011).
Cognitive symptoms come when health care providers experience cognitive impairment such as lowered concentration, disorientation, and apathy. Further cognitive diminishing comes in the form of indifference and preoccupation with traumatic events (Portnoy, 2011). Initially the warning signs may come in the form of difficulty dosing medications or the inability to remember simple promises to patients such as returning with a warm blanket. These symptoms may come upon a health care provider slowly at first but may begin to overwhelm the provider to the point of having a profound affect upon their work. When health care providers begin to feel cognition slipping, it is time to act. Cognitive impairment may lead into emotional symptoms.
Emotional symptoms are exhibited as powerlessness, guilt, numbness, sadness, feelings of depletion or a blunted affect (Portnoy, 2011). It may further show the warning signs of anxiety, anger, fear, or shock (Portnoy, 2011). In the report on compassion fatigue by Portnoy in 2011 its stated that symptoms of emotional fatigue may be revealed through “Experiencing troubling dreams similar to a patient’s dream,” or, “Suddenly and involuntarily recalling a frightening experience while working with a patient of family. Emotional fatigue may become overwhelming and debilitating in the work and personal environment of the health care provider. As health care providers cope with emotional symptoms, behavioral changes may become apparent.
Behavioral symptoms show themselves through irritability, appetite changes, hyper-vigilance or isolation (Portnoy, 2011). It may also cause nightmares similar to that of the emotional symptoms and may cause sleeplessness (Portnoy, 2011). Health care providers may be moody with their peers, patients, and families while suffering from behavioral symptoms of compassion fatigue (Portnoy, 2011). Behavioral symptoms of compassion fatige may lead to poor work performance, lower patient satisfaction with provider scores, and contention among colleagues and family. Behavioral symptoms of compassion fatigue may weigh heavily on health care providers and lead to other forms of fatigue. Another form of...

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