Department or Administrative Unit
Primate Behavior and Ecology
Compassion fatigue is defined as “traumatization of helpers through their efforts at helping others”. It has negative effects on clinicians including reduced satisfaction with work, fatigue, irritability, dread of going to work, and lack of joy in life. It is correlated with patients’ decreased satisfaction with care. Compassion fatigue occurs in a variety of helping professions including educators, social workers, mental health clinicians, and it also appears in nonhuman animal care workers. This study surveyed caregivers of chimpanzees using the ProQOL-V to assess the prevalence of compassion fatigue among this group. Compassion satisfaction is higher than many other types of animal care workers. Conversely, this group shows moderate levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress; higher levels than other types of animal care workers and many medical professions. While compassion fatigue has an effect on the caregiver’s experience, it has potential to affect animal welfare. Caregivers are an integral part of the chimpanzee social network. Compassion fatigue affects the caregiver’s attitude, this could in turn affect the relationship and degrade the experience of care for captive chimpanzees. Compassion fatigue can be mitigated with professional development, mindfulness training, interrelationships among staff, and specialized training. This preliminary assessment indicates the work ahead is educating caregivers about compassion fatigue and implementing procedures in sanctuaries to mitigate burnout and secondary traumatic stress.
Jensvold, M. L. (2022). A preliminary assessment of compassion fatigue in chimpanzee caregivers. Animals, 12(24), 3506. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12243506
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