The Watson Room: Managing Compassion Fatigue in Clinical Nurses on the Front Line

Saturday, 18 March 2017: 10:15 AM

Crystal Crewe, DNP
VCU Health and recent graduate from Walden University, Williamsburg, VA, USA

The concept of compassion fatigue (CF) emerged in the early 1990s in North America to
explain a phenomenon observed in nurses employed in emergency departments. A
precursor to burnout, CF is a well-known phenomenon associated with emotional
exhaustion, depersonalization, and an inability to work effectively. In nurses, CF has
been shown to reduce productivity, increase staff turnover and sick days, and lead to
patient dissatisfaction and risks to patient safety. The aim of this study was to determine
if the use of a Watson Room designated as a “quiet zone” with warm colors on the wall,
massage chair, and soothing sounds in the workplace environment, reduced CF in clinical
nurses at the bedside in acute care settings. The data came from a survey of nurses
(n = 19) working in a level 1 trauma center in an acute care setting. This quantitative
study was conducted over a two week period. A single-group of nurses completed both a
pre and post professional quality of life (ProQol) survey, a 30 item self-measurement of
positive and negative aspects of caring. The ProQol operationalizes in three
subcategories: compassion satisfaction (10 items), burnout (10 items), and CF (10 items).
The ProQOL survey results showed statistically significant differences in the mean scores
in all three categories. Paired samples t tests indicate the Watson Room proved to be
successful in increasing compassion satisfaction (p = .009), decreasing burnout (p =
.002), and decreasing secondary trauma/CF respectively (p = .02). This study shows the
importance of nurses taking care of themselves while taking care of others.
Understanding CF and devising and implementing interventions to address the subject are
important for nurses and patients. Relationship base care of self is very important in our organization. Upper leadership is supportive of managers creating quiet zones from pre-existing spaces to support their staff in care of self, help combat compassion fatigue and burnout.