Strategies for Nurses in Antiretroviral Clinics to Mitigate Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue

  • Mercia Jane Tellie University of South Africa
  • Ronell Leech University of Pretoria
  • Neltjie van Wyk University of Pretoria
Keywords: collegial support, compassion fatigue, managerial support, psychological support, self-care strategies, antiretroviral clinics


Compassion fatigue has a negative impact on the well-being of healthcare professionals. Compassion fatigue affects nurses physically, emotionally and psychologically, as well as their behaviour towards others. Factors that increase nurses’ risk to develop compassion fatigue include an overwhelming workload, being a secondary witness to their patients’ traumatic experiences, emotional involvement with patients, especially children, lack of managerial support, and dealing with the deaths of their patients. The purpose of this paper is to describe strategies that nurses who work in antiretroviral (ARV) clinics use to mitigate the symptoms of compassion fatigue. A qualitative single embedded case study, utilising semi-structured interviews to collect data in ARV clinics in a tertiary hospital in the Gauteng province of South Africa was used. The process of content analysis as described by Elo and Kyngäs was utilised to analyse the data. The knowledge gained from the research findings contributed towards the identification of strategies that nurses use to prevent and manage compassion fatigue ? strategies such as debriefing, management support, psychological support, self-care, collegial support, and celebrating patients’ lives. If compassion fatigue is not recognised early and managed properly, it will have a negative impact on the quality of care and can result in an increase in the turnover rate of staff ? therefore the need for strategies that will mitigate the symptoms of compassion fatigue.

Author Biography

Mercia Jane Tellie, University of South Africa
Department of Health Studies
How to Cite
Tellie, Mercia Jane, Ronell Leech, and Neltjie van Wyk. 2019. “Strategies for Nurses in Antiretroviral Clinics to Mitigate Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue”. Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 21 (1), 18 pages.