COVID-19 patient care predicts nurse parental burnout and child abuse: mediating effects of compassion fatigue


Child abuse Negl. December 27, 2021: 105458. doi: 10.1016 / j.chiabu.2021.105458. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Nurses who are also parents may be at risk of not only professional compassion fatigue, but also parental burnout – a reliable and valid predictor of child abuse and neglect. In support of this, recent research reveals that stressors related to COVID-19 in parents predicted a high potential for child abuse (Katz & Fallon, 2021).

OBJECTIVE: We explored the harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on parental exhaustion, child abuse and neglect among nurses, as mediated by compassion fatigue (i.e., a combination of burnout and secondary traumatic stress).

PARTICIPANTS AND EXECUTIVE: The participants were 244 nurses (age M = 32.4; 87% female) who were parents of young children (aged 12 or younger) recruited through chain referral sampling.

METHODS: Participants completed an anonymous survey assessing how well they care for COVID-19 patients, are exposed to patients suffering and dying from COVID-19, and have lost family income due to COVID-19. We also measured their compassion fatigue, compassionate satisfaction, drug addiction, spousal conflict, parental burnout, child abuse, and child neglect.

RESULTS: As hypothetically, direct care of COVID-19 patients, exposure to death and suffering of patients from COVID-19, and loss of family income from COVID-19 predicted greater compassion fatigue , which in turn predicted greater parental exhaustion, child abuse, child neglect, spousal conflict, and substance abuse (AE 0.06, all ps

CONCLUSIONS: Theoretical implications and practical implications for medical practice and the prevention of child abuse are discussed.

PMID: 34980500 | DOI: 10.1016 / j.chiabu.2021.105458


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