Compassion Fatigue and Resilience among Child Protection Service Workers in South Africa

Keywords: child protection service workers, compassion fatigue, resilience, South Africa


The aim of this quantitative, inferential research was to investigate how working with vulnerable and abused children and families has an impact on child protection service workers in South Africa. In particular, the study explores whether such work leads to compassion fatigue, and whether there is a relationship between compassion fatigue and resilience. Compassion fatigue is recognised as a state of exhaustion that results in helping professionals losing their ability to empathise with their clients, while resilience refers to the process of adaptation in the face of adversity. Using availability sampling, online questionnaires were sent to child protection service workers at the “Afrikaanse Christelike Vrouevereniging”, a national child protection non-profit organisation. The questionnaire included the Professional Quality of Life Scale that measures compassion fatigue, and the Brief Resilience Scale that measures one’s ability to bounce back from stress or adversity. The responses of 81 child protection service workers who completed the questionnaire were captured and analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. The results of this research showed that the participants are impacted by their work in the field of child protection and are vulnerable to compassion fatigue. Furthermore, the results showed a relationship between the Brief Resilience Scale and the Professional Quality of Life Scale, i.e. when the participants’ resilience scores were higher, compassion fatigue scores tended to be lower.

Author Biography

Leon Holtzhausen, University of Cape Town