Compassion Fatigue in Funeral Directors: The Roles of Social Support, Training and Self-Care

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McCormack, Ger
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BA (Hons) in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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Human service workers are susceptible to negative phenomena such as compassion fatigue through their work with people experiencing trauma and extreme emotions. The aim of the study was to examine compassion fatigue in Irish funeral directors, and the role of possible protective factors. Measures included; the Professional Quality of Life Scale (Stamm, 2009) which examines compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue (burnout and secondary traumatic stress), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) (Zimet et al., 1988), 2 self-constructed items examining training; and a purpose designed item exploring self-care. Employing a questionnaire based correlational design; purposive sampling acquired a sample (N=60) of 48 males and 12 females. Findings indicate that funeral directors do not possess high levels of compassion fatigue, although their high levels of compassion satisfaction may reduce the possibility of burnout. Perceived social support from friends was negatively correlated with length of service. Discussion, suggestions and limitations of the study are addressed. Author Keywords: Compassion, Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, Secondary Traumatic Stress, Social Support, Self-Care, Training, Death, Funeral Director, Human Services, Ireland.