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Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Compassion Satisfaction Among Colorado Child Protection Workers

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal Volume: 30 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2006 Pages: 1071-1080
David Conrad; Yvonne Kellar-Guenther
Date Published
October 2006
10 pages
This study of county child protection personnel in Colorado examined their risk for "compassion fatigue" (diminishment of the caring incentive for helping people) and "burnout" (emotional exhaustion, the depersonalization of clients, and reduced sense of personal accomplishment); it also focused on the potential for "compassion satisfaction" (fulfillment in helping others and having positive relationships with colleagues).
Compassion fatigue was found to be a serious problem for county child protection staff in Colorado. Approximately 50 percent of the 363 child protection personnel involved in the study were experiencing "high" or "very high" levels of compassion fatigue; however, only 7.7 percent reported "high" or "extremely high" risk of burnout. Seventy-five percent of the personnel had "extremely high," "high," or "good" potential for compassion satisfaction. As expected, personnel with higher compassion satisfaction had significantly lower levels of burnout and compassion fatigue. The authors suggest that high compassion satisfaction could result from viewing one's job as a calling, i.e., having a personal belief that the work is his/her purpose in life. Previous research had found that support from fellow workers and confidence in one’s ability to serve clients effectively was related to staying in the job. Study participants were recruited at the beginning of their participation in a secondary trauma training seminar. Data were collected from June 2002 to April 2003. Participants completed the Compassion Satisfaction/Fatigue Self-Test for Helpers. This is a 66-item instrument that has 3 subscales for measuring compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction. 3 figures and 23 references


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