Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award



Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Jackie Halstead

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Cecilia Hegamin-Younger

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Pattie Sunderhaus



Although there is a great deal of research on the causes of compassion fatigue, there is little research on prevention techniques or ways to combat compassion fatigue. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to discover if nurses are prepared to cope with occupational stress and compassion fatigue. A secondary purpose was to examine the perceived benefit that pet therapy can have as a possible stress reduction technique to decrease the effects of compassion fatigue. This research was conducted by gathering data via semistructured interviews. The researcher interviewed nurses who were currently practicing patient care and scored as moderate or high risk for compassion fatigue on the Professional Quality of Life Scale. The study sample consisted of six nurses. Data were analyzed using an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach. The research findings indicated that compassion fatigue elevates the level of distress nurses experience while caring for patients, affecting their ability to be servant leaders. The results also illuminated a perceived lack of education to prepare nurses for the challenges they would likely face during their career, as well as the perceived benefit of pet therapy on nurses’ ability to manage their occupational stress and possibly decrease the effects of or cope with compassion fatigue.

Keywords: nurses, compassion fatigue, pet therapy, servant leader, education

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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