Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. Evelyn Parrish

Clinical Mentor

Dr. Chizimuzo Okoli

Committee Member

Dr. Melanie Hardin-Pierce


PURPOSE: This DNP project is relevant to nurses of the psychiatric and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) setting, as high stress environments may produce higher rates of compassion fatigue and burnout. Investigation of these areas may help illuminate unnecessary healthcare costs that are associated with these phenomena. This DNP project is important to the University of Kentucky’s healthcare system, its patients, and nurses. Increased absenteeism and increased medication errors are positively associated with the prevalence of compassion fatigue and burnout in nurses. Outcomes from this project will allow identification of unnecessary healthcare costs and encourage administrators to focus on reducing nurse compassion fatigue in order to promote safe, quality patient care and overall healthcare cost savings.

METHODS: A cross sectional analysis of an electronic survey administered to inpatient psychiatric nurses at Eastern State Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital and ICU nurses from the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital and University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital was performed. In addition, semi-structured interviews were implemented at the aforementioned locations to further enhance understanding of the concepts of compassion fatigue. Levels of compassion fatigue and burnout were analyzed using the Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL). Interviews were evaluated using thematic analysis.

RESULTS: The sample was primarily female (90.5%), heterosexual (96.0%), less than 36 years of age (57.1%), had less than a post graduate degree (88.9%), were married or widowed (50.8%), and did not have children (63.5%). Most participants were bachelor’s prepared nurses (70.6%), worked in the ICU (77.7%), worked day shifts (53.2%), had worked greater than a year at their location (73.8%), and had practiced for greater than 1 year in their discipline (81.7%). There was a modest negative correlation between compassion satisfaction and burnout scores. Compassion satisfaction and burnout scores differed by work setting. However, no significant differences in compassion satisfaction or burnout scores were found between ICU and psychiatric nurses.

CONCLUSION: Although there were no significant differences in compassion satisfaction or burnout scores between ICU and inpatient psychiatric nurses; the work setting, population served, and type of shift worked had a negative impact on compassion satisfaction and burnout scores. Interviews provided a richer essence of the nursing perspective, indicating work engagement and staffing levels may be important factors that impact compassion fatigue and burnout.