Compassion for others, self-compassion, quality of life and mental well-being measures and their association with compassion fatigue and burnout in student midwives: A quantitative survey

Midwifery. 2016 Mar;34:239-244. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2015.11.002. Epub 2015 Nov 6.


Background: compassion fatigue and burnout can impact on the performance of midwives, with this quantitative paper exploring the relationship between self-compassion, burnout, compassion fatigue, self-judgement, self-kindness, compassion for others, professional quality of life and well-being of student midwives.

Method: a quantitative survey measured relationships using questionnaires: (1) Professional Quality of Life Scale; (2) Self-Compassion Scale; (3) Short Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale; (4) Compassion For Others Scale.

Participants: a purposive and convenience sample of student midwives (n=103) studying at university participated in the study.

Results: just over half of the sample reported above average scores for burnout. The results indicate that student midwives who report higher scores on the self-judgement sub-scale are less compassionate towards both themselves and others, have reduced well-being, and report greater burnout and compassion fatigue. Student midwives who report high on measures of self-compassion and well-being report less compassion fatigue and burnout.

Conclusion: student midwives may find benefit from 'being kinder to self' in times of suffering, which could potentially help them to prepare for the emotional demands of practice and study.

Implications: developing, creating and cultivating environments that foster compassionate care for self and others may play a significant role in helping midwives face the rigours of education and clinical practice during their degree programme.

Keywords: Burnout; Compassion fatigue; Self-compassion; Self-judgement; Student midwives; Well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Compassion Fatigue*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwifery / education*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Students, Nursing / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult