Compassion fatigue: a review of the research to date and relevance to cancer-care providers

J Health Psychol. 2009 Mar;14(2):267-77. doi: 10.1177/1359105308100211.


Fifty-seven studies were reviewed to identify the prevalence of compassion fatigue among cancer-care providers, instruments used to detect it and means of prevention and treatment. Conclusions were limited by an ambiguous definition of compassion fatigue that fails to adequately differentiate it from related constructs (e.g. burnout, secondary traumatic stress) and the modest number of cancer-related studies found. However, evidence suggests that compassion fatigue takes a toll not only on cancer-care providers but also on the workplace. These findings highlight the need to understand more clearly the link between the empathic sensitivity of healthcare professionals and their vulnerability to compassion fatigue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Empathy*
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / therapy