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"Definition of Compassion Fatigue"

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Updated: November 28, 2006

Definition: A state experienced by those helping people in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it is traumatizing for the helper.

A deep physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion accompanied by acute emotional pain.

Compassion fatigue is a term generally applied to health care providers that work in intense fields. Those who work in the fields of trauma, mental illness, surgery, emergency medicine, obstetrics, and rural general practitioners are particularly at risk.

Others at risk for compassion fatigue are exposed the second-hand stress--journalists, clergy, law enforcement officers, military personnel and emergency medical responders.

Sources:
Medscape. "Compassion Fatigue: An Expert Interview With Charles R. Figley, MS, PhD." Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health. 10, 2. 17 (October 2005) October 8, 2006 <http://www.medscape.com> (Requires Subscription to View).
Pfifferling, John-Henry, and Gilley, Kay. "Overcoming Compassion Fatigue." Family Practice Management. (April 2000) 7, 4. October 9, 2006 <http://www.aafp.org/fpm/20000400/39over.html>
Krakower, Karen. "Compassion Fatigue, Part I." Health Leader: Online Wellness Magazine. The University of Texas Health Center at Houston. 15 October 2005. October 9, 2006. <http://www.healthleader.uthouston.edu/archive/Mind_Body_Soul/2005/CompassionFatigue-1115.html>

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