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Scott P Klappa
Alexa Peña
Lauren Cerier
Susan G Klappa
Lois E Fulton
Andrew Sibenaller
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Scott P Klappa
Alexa Peña
Lauren Cerier
Susan G Klappa
Lois E Fulton
Andrew Sibenaller
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Global Journal of Medical, Physical and Health Education

ISSN: 2449-1802  Vol. 3 (5), pp. 124-137, October, 2015

Full Length Research Paper

Compassion fatigue among physiotherapist and physical therapists around the world

Susan G. Klappa1*, Lois E. Fulton2, Lauren Cerier3, Alexa Peña4, Andrew Sibenaller5 and Scott P. Klappa6

1Davenport University, Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, 6191 Kraft Ave. SE Grand Rapids, MI 49512

21813 Arthur Circle, Ames, IA 50010

3,4,5University of Saint Mary, Stefani Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, 4100 South 4th Street, Leavenworth, KS 66048

6Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Department of Psychology, 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064

*Corresponding author. E-mail: sklappa@davenport.edu, Phone: 616-871-6158 

Accepted 20 October, 2015

Physiotherapists work in a variety of settings around the world and exhibit great satisfaction in their work. Challenges of everyday practice may be a contributing factor to compassion fatigue (CF) and lower professional quality of life. The purpose of this study was to investigate CF among physiotherapists (PTs) around the world and discuss coping strategies utilized. Mixed methods included a survey and phenomenological interviews. Participants (n= 116) completed the Professional Quality of Life (PROQOL) survey and nine participants engaged in phenomenological interviews. The PROQOL was used to assess the level of compassion satisfaction (CS), burnout (BO), and secondary trauma (STS) experienced by PTs around the world. CF was considered a combination of STS and BO. Group mean CS, BO, and STS scores were low compared to normal populations of caregivers. CS and BO were negatively correlated (r = - 0.535, p < .001). BO and STS were positively correlated (r = 0.530, p < .001). Three main themes emerged from interviews and included work environment stress, protective coping strategies, and the effects of compassion satisfaction.  Better understanding CS, as well as CF in healthcare environments may help therapists develop better coping strategies for mitigating CF.

Key words: Compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, physiotherapist