This sequential mixed design study aimed to: examine the rates of compassion fatigue
(CF), compassion satisfaction, and burnout, identify best predictors of CF, and
explore participants' personal experiences, understanding and ways of coping with
this phenomenon. 46 interpreters, health advocates and therapists working with
trauma survivors participated in the quantitative sequence, four of which were
randomly selected for subsequent semi-structured interviews. CF was measured by
Compassion Satisfaction/Fatigue Self-Test for Helpers (Stamm 1995-1998), empathy
was measured by Hogan Empathy Scale (HOS-R) (Greifand Hogan 1973), exposure
was quantified as trauma work hours per week, and perceived social support measure
was designed for the purpose of this study. It was hypothesised that empathy would
be a significant predictor of compassion fatigue, and that there may be differences in
the predictive value of the analysed variables between clinicians and interpreters.
In the stepwise multiple regression for interpreters, perceived social support (F\i,n =
6.96, p < 0.05) explained 29% of variance in compassion fatigue, exposure (Fjjt =
6.47, p < 0.05) explained additional 20%, while empathy was excluded from the
analysis. In clinicians, empathy explained 49% of variance in compassion fatigue
(Fi,25 = 24.27, p < 0.001), while exposure and perceived social support were found
not to be significant predictors. Therefore, greater susceptibility to compassion
fatigue was associated with greater empathic ability only for clinicians. For
interpreters, social support, followed by exposure, was the best predictor of
compassion fatigue. The second phase of the study added a qualitative dimension to
the investigation. Semi-structured interviews were used to explore experiences,
perceptions, and understanding of compassion fatigue, coping and compassion
satisfaction in four randomly selected participants from the same sample.
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) revealed a number of core and
master themes, some of which have complemented the quantitative findings. The
study was discussed in the light of the relevant literature and critically evaluated in
terms of its limitations, implications and the scope for further research.
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