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Greg Murphy


Compassion fatigue negatively affects the emotional and professional lives of human service workers; however, limited research has examined the underlying factors contributing to compassion fatigue among mental health paraprofessionals in inpatient psychiatric settings. This study applied the constructivist self-development theory and etiological model to examine three organizational factors including work demand, work organization and content, and interpersonal relations and leadership as predictors of compassion fatigue among 153 paraprofessionals working at inpatient psychiatric centers in Upstate New York. A cross-sectional design involved convenience sampling was employed to recruit 153 paraprofessionals to complete the Compassion Fatigue Short-Scale and Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire, and multiple regression analyses of the results were conducted to draw statistical inferences regarding the relationship between compassion fatigue and organizational factors. The results confirmed that all 3 combined organizational factors of work demand were significant predictors of compassion fatigue, and work organization and content were identified as the greatest and most significant predictor of compassion fatigue. The findings strongly align with theoretical literature relating compassion fatigue to unfavorable organizational factors. It is critical that psychiatric and other healthcare settings address these issues in order to create a better working environment, which in turn will improve staff members’ ability to care for their clients. Educational programs are needed to teach paraprofessionals to recognize negative signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue, as well as peer mentoring, self-reflection, and mindfulness training.

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