Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. David Royse


The purpose of this study is to investigate the factors of social worker and allied professional’s professional quality of life, particularly the impact of the professional’s childhood psychological abuse on compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction scores. Variables such as perceived resilience, social support, childhood psychological abuse, evidence-based practice training, years of experience, percentage of clients with trauma narratives, and case-load number are explored both conceptually and as risk or protective factors to social worker and allied professional’s compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction. A conceptual model is provided to visually show the direction of the proposed research.

The sample to be used in this research consists of two-hundred-eighteen social worker and allied professionals in the United States who predominantly have a master’s degree or higher. A simple correlation analysis will be used to see any direct correlations between variables used in this study: childhood psychological abuse and its three components, compassion satisfaction, burnout, compassion fatigue, perceived resilience, social support and its three components, evidence-based training, education level, caseload, percentage of client trauma, and years of experience in the field. Multiple regression analysis will also be utilized in this research study to identify any relationship between the aforementioned variables and compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue.

In focusing on the research question for this study, an examination of the simple correlational matrix found, for this sample of MSW social workers and allied professionals, no significant correlation between childhood psychological abuse and compassion fatigue or compassion satisfaction. Additionally, in running two separate regression models, one for predicting compassion fatigue and one for predicting compassion satisfaction, childhood psychological abuse was not a significant predictor for this sample’s study.

Findings from this study disagree with the only study that attempts to measure childhood psychological abuse of the social worker and their reaction to secondary traumatic stress (Nelson-Gardell & Harris, 2004). There are two main differences between the two study samples: education, training level, and work experience, perhaps suggesting that social workers who are master’s level educated or higher are better protected from compassion fatigue related symptomology, or that the Nelson-Gardell & Harris study’s predominantly child welfare worker sample is encountering client trauma in a way that is unique from this study’s sample. Implications from this study’s findings are explored suggesting further research into the effects of education and evidence-based training as a protective factor from the effects of childhood psychological abuse on compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Included in

Social Work Commons