Compassion fatigue and the healthy work environment

Lesly Kelly, Michael Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: Burnout is a concern for critical care nurses in high-intensity environments. Studies have highlighted the importance of a healthy work environment in promoting optimal nurse and patient outcomes, but research examining the relationship between a healthy work environment and burnout is limited. Objective: To examine how healthy work environment components relate to compassion fatigue (eg, burnout, secondary trauma) and compassion satisfaction. Methods: Nurses (n = 105) in 3 intensive care units at an academic medical center completed a survey including the Professional Quality of Life and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' Healthy Work Environment standards. Results: Regression models using each Healthy Work Environment component to predict each outcome, adjusting for background variables, showed that the 5 Healthy Work Environment components predicted burnout and that meaningful recognition and authentic leadership predicted compassion satisfaction. Conclusions: Findings on associations between healthy work environment standards and burnout suggest the potential importance of implementing the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' Healthy Work Environment standards as a mechanism for decreasing burnout.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-358
Number of pages8
JournalAACN Advanced Critical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Authentic leadership
  • Burnout
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Healthy work environment
  • Meaningful recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care


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