General Science and Philosophy


Coping with Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Genetic Counselors using The Provider Resilience Mobile Application

Authors: Lindsey Kelley, Ms, Mph, Cgc

Introduction: Genetic counselors often work with patients in distress, which can take an emotional toll. Qualities that make genetic counselors effective, such as compassion and empathy, can leave them susceptible to experiencing burnout and compassion fatigue. There is a strong need for genetic counselors to be aware of their levels of burnout, and to make the commitment to incorporate self-care into their practice. This is particularly important as the daily workload and demands on genetic counselors continue to increase. The Provider Resilience mobile application (PR app) is a mobile app designed to help mental health professionals do just that, and consequently reduce their levels of burnout. Methods: This study sought to determine the effectiveness of the PR app in reducing burnout and compassion fatigue in genetic counselors. A total of 36 clinical genetic counselors were recruited to participate in the study via email in February 2019. They were asked to download and use the PR app “regularly” for one month time. They were also asked to complete pre and post surveys before and after using the app, measuring their levels of burnout and compassion fatigue (using the Professional Quality of Life scale). A paired sample t-test was used to assess significant differences in scores from the pre and post survey. Results: Study participants averaged 3.5 years (SD = 4.7) genetic counseling experience, and were overall satisfied with their position (47% satisfied; 44% somewhat satisfied; 6% somewhat dissatisfied; and 3% dissatisfied). Their baseline Compassion Satisfaction and Burnout scores were in the average range, while their Compassion Fatigue scores were in the low range. Results of the paired samples t-test indicated significant decreases in the Compassion Fatigue scores (t(34) = 2.299, p = .028), but Compassion Satisfaction and the Burnout scores did not significantly change after using the app for the month (t(34) = -.855, p = .398 and t(34) = 1.724, p = .094 respectively). Conclusion: Overall, this sample of genetic counselors appeared to be psychologically healthy, endorsing average levels of compassion fatigue and burnout and generally satisfied in their current position. While there was not much change in compassion satisfaction and burnout scores, there was a significant decrease in compassion fatigue after using the app. The Provider Resilience app appears to be easy to use and allows convenient and consistent availability of daily reminders to engage in self-care, which may help to reduce burnout in genetic counselors.

Comments: 26 Pages.

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Submission history

[v1] 2019-10-16 14:30:17

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