Compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction in pediatric and neonatal care nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden

J Pediatr Nurs. 2023 Nov-Dec:73:e646-e651. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2023.11.013. Epub 2023 Nov 17.


Purpose: Quality of care and the mental and physical health of nurses are interlinked. The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed an extremely high burden on health care. This study aimed to: 1) describe professional quality of life of registered nurses (RN) working in the pediatric and neonatal care units during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden, 2) compare professional quality of life between RNs with and without a Master's degree in specialist nursing pediatric care (MSc), and 3) compare differences in professional quality of life associated with the nursing experience (years).

Design and methods: This study adopted a cross-sectional survey design. The PROQoL®-5-questionnaire was administered as a web survey to 160 RNs at four pediatric wards and two neonatal units of two hospitals in Sweden.

Results: Seventy-one RNs responded to the survey. Overall, they reported a sufficient professional quality of life. RNs with an MSc suffered significantly lower secondary traumatic stress levels. Experienced RNs reported significantly higher compassion satisfaction and lower occupational burnout.

Conclusion: Higher education and longer experience are beneficial for nurses' professional quality of life when working in pediatric care units.

Practical implications: Results from this study highlights the importance of offering RN education in pediatric care at master level and supporting novice nurses, to prevent negative professional well-being outcomes in pediatric care, because the health of nurses is of utterly importance when crisis such as a pandemic hits the world. The findings also suggest that the conditions for professional quality of life could improve through activities such as self-care, time for reflection, better working hours, competence-adjusted salary, and educational opportunities.

Keywords: Burnout; COVID-19; Nursing; Pediatric nursing; Professional quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional* / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional* / prevention & control
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Compassion Fatigue* / epidemiology
  • Compassion Fatigue* / prevention & control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Empathy
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Nurses*
  • Pandemics
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology