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Compassion Fatigue



A "Rescue Story" Short Film

Compassion fatigue is a form of post-traumatic stress that results from feeling deep empathy toward one who is suffering and being unable to alleviate their suffering. It is typically accompanied by an emotional bond between a caregiver and a patient. Animal care workers deal with this regularly. Similar to human services professionals working with traumatized individuals, animal care workers also report experiences of secondary trauma. For animal care workers, the literature examines secondary trauma effects through concepts such as compassion fatigue, burnout, moral stress, and perpetration-induced traumatic stress. Research suggests that veterinarians and veterinary technicians/assistants and staff suffer from compassion fatigue and burnout. The current article reports results from a survey of 2,878 animal care workers in the United States, where potential risk and protective factors for compassion fatigue were examined using multiple regression analysis. There was a high level of compassion fatigue for both veterinarians and nonveterinary staff. The strongest risk factors for compassion fatigue were degree of exposure to cruelty and neglect cases and degree of stress from performing euthanasia. Best practices for healthy management of compassion fatigue in animal care workers are discussed, and organizational practices that help mitigate it are recommended. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)