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Compassion fatigue and the effectiveness of support structures for diagnostic radiographers in oncology.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Diagnostic radiographers working in oncology will have frequent contact with the same patients over a prolonged period. This can be mentally exhausting for the radiographer. Compassion fatigue (CF) occurs after repeated exposure to stressful situations and it can become overwhelming, leading to irritability and decreased empathy. CF has been known to affect many healthcare professions, however few studies have examined diagnostic radiographers, nor if the current support systems are suitable. METHODS: An exploratory study was conducted as part of a local quality improvement project. An anonymised questionnaire was sent to all radiographers in a single oncology hospital within the UK to assess if the support provided met their needs. RESULTS: Sixty percent of those questioned responded. Almost half found their work affected their mental wellbeing, but they felt they could manage this stress at work. Almost all felt that some sort of support should be offered to the radiographers. The most popular options were already provided by the hospital, however many felt they were not accessible for a variety of reasons. When discussed further, it was found that the timings were prohibitive as most were held when they could not attend. CONCLUSION: Diagnostic radiographers working in oncology settings are at risk of CF. Although support structures are in place, they may not currently meet the needs of this staff group and at times are inaccessible. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Providing specific, accessible support for diagnostic radiographers will help reduce the potential effects of CF, reduce stress-related sickness and ultimately improve the service for patients.

Citation

(2020). Compassion fatigue and the effectiveness of support structures for diagnostic radiographers in oncology. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, 22-28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmir.2020.11.008

Acceptance Date Nov 17, 2020
Publication Date Dec 2, 2020
Journal Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences
Print ISSN 1939-8654
Publisher Elsevier
Pages 22-28
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmir.2020.11.008
Keywords Compassion fatigue; Psychological support; Empathy; Burnout; Radiography
Publisher URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S193986542030343X?via%3Dihub

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