This study explored the impacts of compassion fatigue on social workers working with oncology patients. The purposive sample featured 12 medical social workers providing psychosocial care in hospitals to oncology patients in Korea. Based on in-depth interviews on the effects of compassion fatigue, the following main themes emerged: (a) personal well-being (negative physical symptoms, feeling dejected, rumination, guilt and regret, excessive concern about health, and overwhelmed by sadness); (b) work (losing a sense of purpose, emotionally unavailable, avoiding clients, and feeling demotivated); (c) coming to terms with compassion fatigue (learning to manage compassion fatigue and recognizing helpful strategies); and (d) transforming the impact of compassion fatigue (change in life perspective, finding strength in life and self, and becoming humble). This study informs readers of the development of interventions to counter the negative consequences of compassion fatigue. Future research should focus on further understanding about how oncology social workers develop and cope with compassion fatigue, with an emphasis on the experiences of those with different characteristics and available resources.
- compassion fatigue
- medical social worker