Alleviating emotional exhaustion in oncology nurses: an evaluation of Wellspring's "Care for the Professional Caregiver Program"

J Cancer Educ. 2012 Mar;27(1):27-36. doi: 10.1007/s13187-011-0278-z.


A high level of burnout has been demonstrated in oncologists, nurses, and other health professionals. Interventions developed in response demonstrate mixed results. Wellspring, a community cancer support organization, has developed a 1-day session called Care for the Professional Caregiver Program (CPCP) and has delivered it to over 700 healthcare workers. The present study assessed the effects of the CPCP on three groups of oncology nurses (pediatric, surgical, and general oncology staff) and one group of nurse managers. Subjects completed the Maslach burnout inventory (MBI), the General health questionnaire (GHQ) and the short form of the Marlowe-Crowne social desirability scale (M-C) prior to receiving the intervention. They then completed the MBI and GHQ at 1-month and 7-month follow-ups. Six months after the original session, a small subset of subjects was randomly selected to participate in a 1-day CPCP booster session. At baseline, one third of the nurses showed high burnout on the MBI. The nurses demonstrated a significant decrease in emotional exhaustion and an improvement on the GHQ, at the 1-month follow-up testing (p = 0.003 and 0.001, respectively) and 7-month follow-up testing (p = 0.002 and 0.001). The booster session proved difficult to deliver because of institutional scheduling problems due to nurse shortages, so only a small percentage (22%) of the sample participated; however, it was well received. Thus, the CPCP is effective in ameliorating emotional exhaustion, an intrinsic aspect of burnout.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Caregivers / organization & administration*
  • Emotions*
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires