The Cost of Caring: An Exploration of Compassion Fatigue, Compassion Satisfaction, and Job Satisfaction in Pediatric Nurses

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The purpose of this study was to describe levels of compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, and job satisfaction among pediatric nurses in the United States and determine if there was a relationship among these constructs.

Design and Methods:

All members Society of Pediatric Nurses were sent an electronic invitation to participate, and those who consented received three measures; a demographic questionnaire, the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) and the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) measure.


Three hundred eighteen (10.6%) of members of the Society of Pediatric Nurses participated in the study: Over three quarters (245, 76%) of the sample had another career before nursing. The sample's mean job satisfaction level was 149.8 (SD = 29.74), which was significantly higher than published reported means for nurses. Bivariate analyses revealed a significant relationship between gender and the compassion satisfaction, in that women were more likely to evidence compassion satisfaction than men (t = 1.967, p = .05, df = 298). No other significant relationships were found.


The majority of nurses had high levels of compassion satisfaction and job satisfaction; further, female gender was associated with higher levels of compassion satisfaction.

Practice Implications:

This current study had a very high response from second-career nurses (n = 245, 76.8%) and overall, the sample had higher levels of compassion satisfaction. It is possible that second career nurses are better equipped in some way that helps them mediate negative responses of caring as a pediatric nurse and future research should explore this. Due to the significant financial costs to institutions of having nurses who have low levels of job satisfaction and high levels on compassion fatigue, it is imperative for hospital administrators to develop infrastructures to support employees.

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