Trauma surgeons experience compassion fatigue - a major metropolitan area survey


Advocate Christ Medical Center


Introduction:Compassion Fatigue (CF), the physical, emotional, and psychological impact of helping others, is composed of three domains: Compassion Satisfaction (CS), Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS), and Burnout (BO). Trauma surgeons (TS) experience work-related stress resulting in high rates of CF which can manifest as physical and psychological disorders. We hypothesized that TS experience CF and there are potentially modifiable systemic factors to mitigate its symptoms.

Methods:All TS in a major metropolitan area were eligible. Personal and professional demographic information was obtained. Each participant completed six validated surveys: 1) Professional Quality of Life Scale (Pro-QOL), 2) Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), 3) Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), 4) Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) Questionnaire, 5) Brief Coping Inventory (BCI), and 6) Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ). CF subscale risk scores (low:<23, moderate:23-41, high:>41) were recorded. Linear regression analysis assessed the demographic and environmental factors association with BO, STS, and CS. Variables significant on univariate analysis were included in multivariate models to determine the independent influence on BO, STS, and CS. Significance was p ≤ 0.05.

Results:There were 57 TS (response rate:75.4% (n = 43); Caucasian: 65% (n = 28), male:67% (n = 29)). TS experienced CF (BO:26 (IQR: 21-32), STS:23 (IQR: 19-32), CS:39 (IQR: 34-45)). The PSS score was significantly associated with increased BO (Coef: 0.52, 95% CI: 0.28-0.77) and STS (Coef: 0.44. 95% CI: 0.15-0.73), and decreased CS (Coef: -0.51, 95% CI: -0.80- -0.23) (p < 0.01). Night shifts were associated with higher BO (Coef: 1.55, 95% CI: 0.07-3.03, p = 0.05), conversely day shifts were associated with higher STS (Coef: 1.94, 95% CI: 0.32-3.56, p = 0.03). Higher TEQ scores were associated with greater CS (Coef: 0.33, 95% CI: 0.12-0.55, p < 0.01).

Conclusion:TS experience moderate BO and STS associated with modifiable system- and work-related stressors. Efforts to reduce CF should focus on addressing sources of workplace stress and promoting empathic care.

Level of evidence:III, Prognostic and Epidemiological.



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