A study examining factors related to psychosocial well-being among oncology nurses found burnout and compassion fatigue to be common. These and other results were reported in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.

“During the past decade, research has highlighted the increased rates of burnout and compassion fatigue in healthcare workers and the negative health consequences for healthcare workers and patients,” the study authors wrote in their report. “Oncology nurses face emotionally intense situations and increased exposure to suffering and loss,” the authors also noted.

In this study, oncology nurses from throughout central Texas participated in surveys related to well-being. The goal of the study was to identify any links between aspects of self-compassion, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and professional quality of life (QOL) in the study participants. A series of QOL questionnaires were used for gathering data on these factors, and data were analyzed through statistical tests.

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A total of 43 nurses participated in the study, with a mean age of 38.19 years (range, 24 to 65). The population had a mean of 11.57 years (range, 2 to 44) of nursing experience and a mean of 8.5 years (range, 2 to 36) of oncology nursing experience. Most (40 participants) were currently working in oncology.

Of the participants, 36 worked with the adult patient population; 36 worked in the outpatient setting. Questions regarding self-care revealed 28 participants reported no formal education about self-care; 39 reported not attending self-care continuing education; and 31 reported workplace bereavement support programs were not available.

Oncology nurses in this study demonstrated high levels of self-compassion, with professional QOL metrics reportedly similar to those seen in other studies of nurses in the US. In an analysis of correlations, burnout showed a direct correlation with compassion fatigue (P <.01) and an indirect correlation with compassion satisfaction (P <.01), but compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction did not show a significant relationship.

In multiple regression analyses, the researchers found that burnout had a statistically significant relationship with loneliness (P =.001), and compassion fatigue was linked to depression (P =.048). Compassion satisfaction was associated with loneliness (P =.002) and self-compassion (P =.03).

The researchers reported that burnout and compassion fatigue were common in this population of oncology nurses. “System-level changes are critical, but individual agency is also necessary to maintain well-being,” the researchers concluded in their report. They recommended interventions directed toward improving self-compassion, emotional exhaustion, and reduction of loneliness.


Phillips CS, Becker H, Gonzalez E. Psychosocial well-being: An exploratory cross-sectional evaluation of loneliness, anxiety, depression, self-compassion, and professional quality of life in oncology nurses. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2021;25(5):1-8.