Significance: Compassion fatigue is the combination of hopelessness, helplessness, apathy, and an emotional disengagement that results from a prolonged exposure to perceived suffering and can occur in emotionally laden caregiving relationships. The effects of compassion fatigue may lead to increased depression, burden and caregiver strain, and decreased feelings of relationship quality for the caregiver. Compassion fatigue is a concept used with increasing frequency in the nursing and health care literature, but has not yet been studied in adult children who care for parents with dementia at home. Compassion fatigue may be a reason for premature nursing home admission of the care recipient, or a source of abuse or neglect. Adult daughter caregivers likely are at risk for compassion fatigue due to roles as daughters and women, and because of the long duration of caregiving for a parent with dementia. Training Plan: The training plan is designed to increase my knowledge and skills as a nurse researcher on issues related to family caregiving and aging through coursework, lectures, seminars, ethics training, and guided research activities. This combination will develop my ability to independently conduct research related to compassion fatigue in adult daughter caregivers for older adults with dementia. Methods: This qualitative descriptive study of adult daughter caregivers for older adults with dementia will include two open-ended interviews conducted one month apart with adult daughter caregivers of a parent with dementia. Qualitative content analysis will be the approach of data analysis. This method of data analysis will provide an in-depth description of compassion fatigue and the contributing factors and potential outcomes using caregiver quotes.
Specific Aim : To explore compassion fatigue and the contributing factors and potential outcomes of compassion fatigue in adult daughter caregivers for a parent with dementia. Research questions: 1: How do adult daughter caregivers describe compassion fatigue when talking about the experience of caring for a parent with dementia? 2: What do adult daughter caregivers for a parent with dementia describe as contributing factors and outcomes of compassion fatigue? 3: How do adult daughter caregivers for older adults with dementia vary in characteristics of compassion fatigue and contributing factors and outcomes, and what patterns emerge in this variation? Long-term Objectives: To develop and test nursing interventions to reduce compassion fatigue in adult child caregivers and eliminate its negative consequences for care recipients. Next research steps will explore trajectories of compassion fatigue and develop instruments to measure and screen for compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue may lead to increased depression, burden and caregiver strain, and decreased feelings of relationship quality for the caregiver and may lead to premature nursing home admission for the care recipient or may be the source of abuse or neglect. There are 15 million caregivers for older adults with dementia and by exploring compassion fatigue and its contributing factors and outcomes, nursing interventions may be developed to reduce compassion fatigue and eliminate its negative consequences for this growing population of caregivers.