Compassion fatigue in animal care employees

dc.contributor.committeeChairProtopopova, Alexandra
dc.contributor.committeeMemberMcGlone, John J.
dc.contributor.committeeMemberSchmidt, Adam
dc.creatorAndrukonis, Allison
dc.creator.orcid0000-0002-4099-5730 2018
dc.description.abstractAnimal shelter workers are at a high risk for compassion fatigue, burnout, and even suicide. The aim of the first study was to test the “caring-killing paradox” model which suggests that animal shelter staff who partake in husbandry as well as euthanasia have the greatest likelihood of compassion fatigue. Animal shelter staff who partake in constant husbandry and euthanasia, veterinary staff who partake in some husbandry and euthanasia, and university employees who harvest livestock but do not partake in husbandry were included in Experiment 1. Blood pressure was collected pre- and post- euthanasia/harvest and heart rate variability (HRV) was measured throughout. Following euthanasia/harvest, the Professional Quality of Life Questionnaire, Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), and a work/personal history questionnaire were administered. In Experiment 1, IES-R was significantly different across jobs (animal shelter M = 26.9, SD = 17.4: harvest M = 9.4, SD = 10.3), but compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress were not. This supported the “caring” aspect of the “caring-killing paradox,” but suggested that employees were not experiencing compassion fatigue, but some other form of trauma. In Experiment 2, HRV of animal shelter staff who do not euthanize regularly were compared to those that do as well as pet hotel employees. The Moral Injury Event Scale (MIES) was also added. The psychometric and physiological measures did not differ across job, rejecting the “killing” aspect of the “caring-killing paradox.” MIES was significantly correlated with IES-R, but no other measure, supporting the idea that employees are not suffering from compassion fatigue. The second study, a survey sent to shelters nationwide, aimed to look at the impact of Live Release Rate (LRR) and choice on IES-R, compassion satisfaction, burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and MIES. Compassion satisfaction, secondary traumatic stress, moral injury, and burnout were positively correlated with LRR. MIES had a significant negative correlation with whether or not an employee euthanizes. This further supports the idea that animal care employees may be morally injured. Secondary traumatic stress was correlated with deciding which animal will be euthanized. This suggests that choice is important when it comes to specific animal chosen for euthanasia.
dc.rights.availabilityRestricted until September 2019. For access, request a copy.
dc.subjectCompassion fatigue
dc.subjectMoral injury
dc.subjectAnimal shelter
dc.subjectHeart rate variability
dc.titleCompassion fatigue in animal care employees
local.embargo.terms2019-08-01 and Food Science Science Tech University of Science


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