Preferred Name

Katherine L. Harville

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


School of Communication Studies


Rationale: Compassion fatigue is present in multiple nursing fields, but hospice poses a significant threat to nurses working within that specific environment. This is due to their consistent proximity with patient suffering, death and dying, and constant communication with patients regarding their death. The hospice nurse-patient relationship requires a deeper connection between nurse and patient which often results in consistent emotional labor for hospice nurses, further amplifying the threat of compassion fatigue. While the effects of compassion fatigue can manifest in many forms, it is typically characterized by a nurses’ decline in job satisfaction, which they do not tend to speak openly about. While research has been conducted concerning the effects compassion fatigue can have on the quality of care received by the patient, there has been very little research conducted analyzing the relationship between hospice nurse-patient communication and compassion fatigue.

RQ1: What do hospice nurses report as the consequences of compassion fatigue for themselves, their colleagues, and their patients?

RQ2: How do hospice nurses think compassion fatigue influences the way they communicate with their patients?

Methodology: In order to understand the research questions under investigation, hospice nurses were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. Data was analyzed using the thematic consistent comparative method to identify common themes and trends in the data.

Findings: Participants discussed the multiple roles in which they felt responsible engaging, unique challenges associated with hospice work, and effects of stress and fatigue



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