Nurse practitioners (NPs) who practice meditation and/or mindfulness and receive a significant amount of support from family and friends experience increased compassion satisfaction (CS) and lower rates of burnout, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Practicing NPs were invited to take an anonymous survey that was divided into 3 sections: the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) scale, protective self-care factors, and demographic data of participants. The survey data was collected over a 6-week period from March to April 2019.

The ProQOL consists of 30 questions and measures 3 components that may affect the quality of life of a professional such as CS (pleasure from doing your work well), burnout (an element of compassion fatigue [CF] from hopelessness or difficulties in dealing with work), and secondary traumatic stress (STS), a secondary component of CF. The study attempted to assess possibly risk factors that may be associated with an increased perception of CF such as states that impose restricted licensing.  The study also focused on examining the potential protective factors that may enhance the perception of CS and therefore reduce burnout among NPs.

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More women than men completed the survey (202 vs 5, respectively). The majority of the participants (37%) were between 30 and 40 years of age. Eighty-two participants worked in full practice states and 99 worked in a restricted practice state. More than half of participants had <5 years of practice.

The mean values of the ProQOL scales (CS, burnout, and STS) were 39.63, 23.52, and 22, respectively. More than half of individuals (57.2%) had an average score for CS whereas the remaining participants (42.8%) scored high for CS. The burnout scale ratings ranged from low (48.6%) to average (51.4%). STS scores fluctuation from low (56.3%) to average (43.8%).

Participants reported that they engaged in some sort of physical exercise (26.9%) or meditation (25.5%) at least once a week. The majority of participants reported that they felt supported on most days from family and friends (38%); however, 36.1% reported that they did not feel supported by their work’s administration.

NPs who practice meditative exercises more than 3 times a week were found to have a high level of CS and a low level of burnout. No significant findings were seen for meditative practices and STS. Increased CS was also seen in those NPs who reported support from family and friends, coworkers, direct management, and administration.

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“It was encouraging to note that there is an average to high level of CS among those surveyed, noting that no participants scored low on the CS scale,” stated the authors. “These findings accompanied by a low to average burnout rate among the NPs surveyed in this study were of a hope-filled finding.”


Glover-Stief M, Jannen S, Cohn T. An exploratory descriptive study of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction: Examining potential risk and protective factors in advanced nurse practitioners [published online March 16, 2020]. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. doi:10.1097/JXX.0000000000000357.