Identifying Compassion Fatigue in Obstetric Nurses

07/29/2019 16:09

photo of Dr. Linda CassarCompassion fatigue, characterized by lack of engagement, apathy and negative feelings, is a common complaint among nurses in fields such as oncology and emergency medicine. But for obstetric (OB) nurses, the data is less clear. Linda Cassar, D.N.P., RNC-OB, C.N.E., hopes to change that.  

Dr. Cassar received a grant from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) for her research proposal, Understanding Compassion Fatigue Among Obstetric Nurses in the United States.  

“Obstetrics is perceived to be a happy place,” said Dr. Cassar, a clinical assistant professor at GW Nursing. “Sometimes a mom comes in to have a baby, and everything is happy, and things go well. But the United States is the only developed country where the maternal mortality rate is rising, and that can be stressful,” she said. “Many moms are having babies at an older age, so they come into care with health problems or situations can present unexpectedly, and nurses have to deal with a lot of these issues.” 

The grant, one of the two AWHONN Every Woman, Every Baby awards, will identify whether compassion fatigue is prevalent among OB nurses. Dr. Cassar hopes to use the results of the study to learn how to provide nurses with resources to address their needs, she said.