Pi Phi Chapter

Describing the Effects of Self-compassion as a Moderator on the Relationship between Burnout and Psychological Well-being in Nursing

Nursing Research on the Green

2015 Abstract

Rosemarie Hoff, DNP, RN, CNE; Jennifer Poelma, RN; Camilla Jaekel, PhD, RN;  Kathleen Graham, MS, RN, CNS; Terri Pedace, RN; Heidi Rekow, RN; Janice Hutchens, MSN, RN; Kandi Holt, RN; Renee Muellenberg, RN; Cherie Davenport, MS, RN; Borislav Yankov, RN; Kimberly Welvaert, RN; Debra Herbert, RN and Abdulaziz Elfessi, PhD – Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare

  • Background:  There is a dearth of literature to support understanding the concept of self-compassion among employed nurses particularly its moderating effects on the relationship between psychological well-being and burnout. A search in PubMed using “self-compassion and nurses” only retrieved five articles published since 2010. A search in CINAHL using the same keywords and timeframe did not retrieve any new articles.  Two articles examined the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on improving self-compassion and decreasing burnout in nurses (Bazarko, Cate, Azocar, & Kreitzer, 2013; Gauthier, Meyer, Grefe, & Gold, 2014), two articles were editorial in nature (Koloroutis, 2014; Thornton, 2011) and one article focused on the relationship between self-compassion and nurses’ emotional intelligence (Heffernan, Griffin, McNulty, & Fitzpatrick, 2010). During an ancestry search of references, another editorial article on self-compassion was discovered (Mills, Wand, & Fraser, 2014). Research is needed to understand the burnout in nurses and the impact of self-compassion. Therefore, this research study determined the moderating effects of self-compassion on the relationship between psychological well-being and burnout.
  • Significance:  In the current healthcare environment, burnout is a common experience for nurses (Burke et al, 2010).  Effects of self-compassion on burnout and resultant higher levels of psychological well-being were demonstrated in past studies of students (Hall et al., 2013; Kyeong, 2013).
  • Purpose/objective:  The primary objective of this study was to determine the effects of self-compassion on the relationship between psychological well-being and burnout among nurses. It is hypothesized that self-compassion may moderate the relationship between psychological well-being and burnout in nurses. The primary objective of this study was to determine the moderating effects of self-compassion on the inverse relationship between psychological well-being and burnout among nurses. 
  • Methods/project:  Three measures (Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey, Self-Compassion Scale, and Psychological Well-Being) were administered in a cross-sectional survey of nurses from a community-focused healthcare system in the Midwest.There was no randomization procedure for this study. The Institution’s Chief Nursing Officer authorized study implementation. After obtaining IRB approval, a list of all nurses’ emails as obtained from the institution’s Human Resources Department, identified eligible participants. The recruiting email asking for voluntary participation in the study was sent to all eligible nurses (n=601) via the  Blind Carbon Copy (BBC) functionality of email, which allowed for only the recipient email address to be visible. This recruitment process ensured that all interested staff nurses had equal opportunity to participate in the study and protected the anonymity of other staff.  The email directed willing participants to an internet link that took them to the study electronic questionnaires. By completing the surveys via the electronic link in the recruitment email, the participant denoted voluntary consent to participate in the study. A follow-up recruitment email was sent once weekly for two weeks to encourage participation in the study. 
  • Results:  187 participants completed the survey. Correlations from this study showed that self-compassion and psychological well-being are both negatively related to burnout [r=-.249, p<.01 and r=-.250, p<.01, respectively]. Self-compassion is positively associated with psychological well-being (PWB) [r=.726, p<.01]. The first model in the hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that psychological well-being was significantly and negatively (R2=.063, F(1,185)=12.345, β= -.114,  p<.01) related to burnout. In the second regression model, contribution by self-compassion (R2=.072, F(1,184)=1.879) demonstrated only a change in R2 of .009, which was not significant (p=.172). The beta coefficient however did confirm the inverse relationship between self-compassion and burnout (β= -.241).               
  • Clinical implications:  The correlational findings of this study indicate that individually, self-compassion and psychological well-being have a significant inverse relationship to burnout. However, self-compassion did not have a significant moderating effect on the relationship between psychological well-being and burnout in this particular sample of nurses. Even though there is not a combined impact, improving one’s psychological well-being or permitting oneself to be self-compassionate will help to negate the effects of burnout.

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