How are compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction affected by quality of working life? Findings from a survey of mental health staff in Italy

Cetrano, Gaia ORCID logoORCID:, Tedeschi, Federico, Rabbi, Laura, Gosetti, Giorgio, Lora, Antonio, Lamonaca, Dario, Manthorpe, Jill and Amaddeo, Francesco (2017) How are compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction affected by quality of working life? Findings from a survey of mental health staff in Italy. BMC Health Services Research, 17 , 755. ISSN 1472-6963 [Article] (doi:10.1186/s12913-017-2726-x)

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Quality of working life includes elements such as autonomy, trust, ergonomics, participation, job complexity, and work-life balance. The overarching aim of this study was to investigate if and how quality of working life affects Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Compassion Satisfaction among mental health practitioners.

Staff working in three Italian Mental Health Departments completed the Professional Quality of Life Scale, measuring Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Compassion Satisfaction, and the Quality of Working Life Questionnaire. The latter was used to collect socio-demographics, occupational characteristics and 13 indicators of quality of working life. Multiple regressions controlling for other variables were undertaken to predict Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Compassion Satisfaction.

Four hundred questionnaires were completed. In bivariate analyses, experiencing more ergonomic problems, perceiving risks for the future, a higher impact of work on life, and lower levels of trust and of perceived quality of meetings were associated with poorer outcomes. Multivariate analysis showed that (a) ergonomic problems and impact of work on life predicted higher levels of both Compassion Fatigue and Burnout; (b) impact of life on work was associated with Compassion Fatigue and lower levels of trust and perceiving more risks for the future with Burnout only; (c) perceived quality of meetings, need of training, and perceiving no risks for the future predicted higher levels of Compassion Satisfaction.

In order to provide adequate mental health services, service providers need to give their employees adequate ergonomic conditions, giving special attention to time pressures. Building trustful relationships with management and within the teams is also crucial. Training and meetings are other important targets for potential improvement. Additionally, insecurity about the future should be addressed as it can affect both Burnout and Compassion Satisfaction. Finally, strategies to reduce possible work-life conflicts need to be considered.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Compassion fatigue, burnout, compassion satisfaction, quality of working life, mental health staff, mental health services
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Mental Health, Social Work and Interprofessional Learning
Item ID: 29054
Notes on copyright: © The Author(s). 2017
Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
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Depositing User: Gaia Cetrano
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2020 09:11
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2022 10:35

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