Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Dr. Vern Baxter

Second Advisor

Dr. Pamela Jenkins

Third Advisor

Dr. Charles Figley


The purpose of this study is to expand on the existing framework for the analysis of compassion fatigue by exploring contributing factors not traditionally examined such as increases in the number of patients assigned to each nurse, more hours of work per shift, the use of non-licensed clinical personnel instead of licensed clinical personnel, and changes in work flow management. This thesis explores one main research question: How does the corporatization of America’s healthcare system contribute to nurse’s lived experience of compassion fatigue? Michael Burawoy’s extended case method is deployed in order to gain a broader understanding of compassion fatigue.

Content analysis of one semi-structured life world interview and two nurses’ blogs reveal four major themes that enlarge the scope of compassion fatigue: professional disheartenment, adverse implications, ethical conflict, and technological distress. Results reveal that the corporatization of America’s healthcare contributes to compassion fatigue amongst nurses. An alternative approach to compassion fatigue considers the socio- economic and political environment of compassion fatigue and how that contributes to nurses’ lived experience of compassion fatigue.


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