Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing Administration and Emergency Management




College of Natural & Health Sciences


Purpose: Research studies on the prevalence of compassion fatigue (CF) in nursing have been conducted in various clinical settings. There has been limited empirical research conducted on nurses working within the geriatric behavioral health setting, which can present increased nursing challenges related to the chronic health problems of aging coupled with acute behavioral health crises. The purpose of this quantitative, descriptive research study was to identify the prevalence of CF in RN and LPN staff within an inpatient geriatric behavioral health unit setting in two comparably sized hospitals. Design/Methods: An electronic survey design (consisting of demographics and the ProQOL v. 5 survey tool) was used to collect data from a convenience sample of inpatient geriatric behavioral health nurses in two mid-sized rural hospitals in Arkansas. A total of 18 patient care nurses voluntarily completed the survey measuring their professional quality of life (compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress). Data analysis was conducted via the ProQOL v. 5 scoring and interpretation tools. Findings: The inpatient geriatric behavioral health nurses’ survey results showed predominately high levels of compassion satisfaction, low levels of burnout, and secondary traumatic stress associated with their work. Therefore, based on this unexpected trio of results, the sample groups of nurses as a whole did not display the characteristics associated with experiencing CF. Further, this study showed the average length in years as a nurse was longer than the average length of years as a nurse within the geriatric behavioral health setting. Conclusions: The results of this study indicated it was possible to work as a nurse in a highly stressful environment such as inpatient geriatric behavioral health and have a low risk of developing CF. Implications/Recommendations: A more in-depth study on inpatient geriatric behavioral health nurses would be beneficial in determining how nurses working within the acute geriatric behavioral health setting do not experience CF. Improved recognition of CF among inpatient geriatric behavioral health nurses may prevent emotional exhaustion and help identify interventions that will help nurses remain caring nurses.