The Issue of Compassion Fatigue Risk in Nurses


The article of Frank and Karioth concerns the issue of compassion fatigue risk in nurses. In the introduction of their study, the authors present the purpose of the research. Specifically, the research is aimed at studying the compassion fatigue level in nurses who worked with the victims of the Florida hurricanes in 2004. The purpose is clearly stated and serves as a determiner of the study.


The introductory part of the article also contains research questions, which concern the same issue. The authors intended to investigate the levels of risk for compassion fatigue in nurses during and after the experiment, and the factors, which contributed to the results. Thus, the authors took into consideration both the dependent and independent variables. The research questions flow logically from the theoretical framework presented in the article. The relevance of the research questions is supported by the gaps in the knowledge about the subject, which were shown by the authors.

According to Houser, independent variables are “controlled by researcher”. All the other variables, including unexpected effects and unplanned results are referred to as dependent (Houser, 2007). Thus, in the study the variables are independent, as far as every detail of the observation is controlled by the researchers. Among the study’s, independent variables are nurses, their practice, victims of the hurricane, compassion-fatigue self-test.

Concerning the population, the researchers studied the part of the population, which has a profession of nurse and is involved in helping the victims of the Florida hurricane. This is due to the fact, that this part of the population is sustainable for answering the research questions. The population involved in the survey was discussed in the introductory part.

The authors’ rationale for the study is explicit, as they mention the need for investigating the current issue. Indeed, the study is motivated by the numerous cases of compassion fatigue in nurses. By the same means, the importance of the study is proved. For instance, the authors mention the negative effects that compassion fatigue has, accentuating the need to avoid this phenomenon. Studying the regularity of CF risk appears to be the first step to maintaining the problem. All in all, the importance of the study is implicit.

The analyzed research article has no theoretical framework. However, there is no need for any theory to be introduced in the research, as the investigated issue has no special terms or notions, which need extra explanation.

In contrast, the literature review is well organized and presented. The authors elaborated on a number of sources, each of which investigated the issue. Specifically, the analyzed sources discuss the factors contributing to the CF, such as age, sex, and experiences of the nurse, and also the reasons for CF occurrence, such as working with unique populations or in extreme conditions. The literature review serves as a basis for the research questions.

The research design used in the article is a retrospective survey. The authors combine the qualitative and quantitative approaches. The choice of such research design is justified, as this topic needs not only statistical data to be derived but also some qualitative characteristics to be studied.

The sampling was made in accordance with the purpose of the study. Namely, the nurses involved were recommended by the Florida State Department of Health. The sampling corresponds to the design of the study. The sampling size of 500 nurses suggests the reliable results to be derived from the study. The number of the subjects used is not mentioned in the study; however, it is obviously greater than the number of nurses participating. The subjects were generally described; they included the victims of Florida hurricanes in 2004.

The study setting was clearly presented; the researchers used an internet questionnaire for the nurses who experienced helping the mentioned subjects. The data was collected with email messages. However, the data collection was not described in detail; it is briefly mentioned in the methodology and results section.

The researchers used a special demographic questionnaire as an instrument for the study. They were aimed at defining the nurses’ attitude towards the patients, who suffered from the hurricanes. For this purpose, various questions were included.

The tools used in the study were claimed to be reliable in the methodological section. The authors name the compassion fatigue self-test implementation in different settings as the tool, which provides validity for the research results.

The results of the study were given in percentage data. They were included in the results section and were explicitly named. However, one of the disadvantages in this section is that there are no tables summarizing and comparing the figures, which makes it harder for the readers to conclude about the research outcomes. The statistical significance of the results is undeniable. The implications for practice are not given explicitly in the article. The results were also linked to the existing knowledge about the issue. Indeed, the authors compare the results, derived from the survey, with the previously made studies.

The authors managed to define the study limitations in the discussion section. They include the study design, unwillingness of the population to share the information, limited testing.


The study contains the recommendations for further research, which are given in a separate section. The authors discuss the possibility for other researchers to develop the study in the future. All in all, the article is well-organized and rather educational.

Reference List

Frank, D, Karioth, S (2006) “Measuring Compassion Fatigue in Public Health Nurses Providing Assistance to Hurricane Victims” Southern Online Journal of Nursing Research: 4(7), 1-13.

Houser, J (2007) Nursing research: reading, using, and creating evidence Jones & Bartlett Publishers.