Definition The most widely used term for an emotional state characterised by a gradual reduction of compassion over time.
At risk groups Nurses, psychologists, first responders and others who provide long-term care for trauma victims.
Clinical findings Hopelessness, decreased sense of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness, nightmares, and a pervasive negative attitude, often resulting in decreased productivity, the inability to focus, and development of new sense of incompetence and self-doubt.
Aetiology Uncertain, possibly linked to decontextualised images and stories of tragedy and suffering in the mass media, which may trigger cynicism, allergic responses to the milk of human kindness, and indifference to the suffering of others.
Frequency 15-85% of health care workers suffer compassion fatigue.
Synonyms Secondary traumatic stress, secondary survival, secondary victimisation