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Compassion fatigue in the community nursing workforce: a scoping review

02 September 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 9



compassion fatigue is a phenomenon in areas of nursing practice such as oncology, ICU, palliative care, hospice, and dementia care, but less so among community nurses (Joinson, 1992). A gap in enquiry exists around CN and compassion fatigue around end-of-life patient care.


a scoping review with narrative analysis of selected literature on compassion fatigue in nursing using CINHAL, ProQuest, Science Direct, and the Cochrane Library.


whilst no specific studies were located on compassion fatigue and UK community nurses. Australian, Spanish, and Taiwanese studies report of environment, care relationship duration, resources and poor organisational support being linked to a likelihood of developing compassion fatigue.


compassion fatigue is under-researched in community nursing and merits further enquiry to understand the challenges posed by providing end-of-life care.

Compassion fatigue is a phenomenon that was first identified by Joinson (1992) who recognised it as a noteworthy emotional change in the nurses working within accident and emergency departments. This change was said to be caused by the high-pressure environment that the specialty demands and the frequent encounters with acute illness and death of patients (Joinson, 1992). Professionals suffering from this showed physical symptoms such as stomachache, headache, fatigue, lowered tolerance levels to stress, and low work efficacy (Joinson, 1992). It is important to raise awareness of this phenomenon among professionals so they can recognise and understand how it can be managed.

One area where compassion fatigue has not been reported is in community nurses (CN). However, in the UK, CNs provide care in the patient's home. In recent years, it has evolved and become more acute-based as patients are discharged earlier from the hospital and now remain at home for treatment. Such treatment was once formerly provided in an acute setting (The King's Fund, 2020). CNs provide care to patients with a range of medical conditions, including oncology, dementia, palliative and end-of-life care—where patients' preferred place of care is at home (The Queen's Nursing Institute, 2020). As discussed by Ruiz-Fernandez et al (2020), CNs are also likely to be more vulnerable to compassion fatigue when regularly caring for patients who are suffering from an acute or progressive illness and death. This article examines and discusses compassion fatigue in relation to the CN.

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