Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Marianne E. Borja


Registered dietitians who treat patients with eating disorders may be at risk for developing compassion fatigue due to exposure to patients' chronic complications. Dietetic courses and programs do not comprise coping and resilience training, therefore, dietitians who work with these patients may need additional education. The purpose of this basic qualitative research study was to investigate the perceptions of practicing registered dietitians and dietetic educators on the risk of compassion fatigue, investigate ways to manage and prevent the development of compassion fatigue, and explore the possible need for professional education. Knowles's theory of andragogy provided the conceptual framework as perceptions of educational experiences were explored. Face-to-face semistructured interviews were conducted with 4 registered dietitians whoA treat patients with eating disorders and 4 registered dietitians who are dietetic educators. Data were analyzed using NVivo 12 and a 6-step thematic analysis technique. The 6 themes that emerged from the data included repeated exposure to pain and suffering caused emotional exhaustion and numbness; the risk of compassion fatigue is highest when dietitians are underprepared for the repeated exposure to trauma, pain, and suffering; seeking support is possibly a way to manage and prevent compassion fatigue; setting boundaries, separation of self from work, and self-care are necessary; and education and awareness about compassion fatigue and self-care is needed. An in-person 3-day workshop on preventing and managing compassion fatigue was developed, which can positively impact social change by improving patient care and contributing to the overall wellness in registered dietitians who work with patients with eating disorders.

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