The Impact of Compassion Fatigue on the Well-Being of Oncology Social Workers in Korea

Min Ah Kim, Jaehee Yi, Jen Molloy, Kwonho Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-648
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021


This work was supported by the Myongji University.

FundersFunder number
Myongji University


    • Korea
    • Oncology
    • compassion fatigue
    • medical social worker


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