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Burnout, compassion fatigue, and moral distress in palliative care 

Burnout, compassion fatigue, and moral distress in palliative care
Burnout, compassion fatigue, and moral distress in palliative care

Nathan I. Cherny

, Batsheva Werman

, and Michael Kearney

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date: 24 January 2022

Clinicians involved in the provision of palliative care constantly confront professional, emotional, and organizational challenges. These challenges can make clinicians vulnerable to experiencing one or more of three well-described interrelated syndromes-burnout, compassion fatigue, and moral distress-each of which can lower the threshold for the development of the others. Burnout results from stresses that arise from the clinician’s interaction with the work environment, compassion fatigue evolves specifically from the relationship between the clinician and the patient, and moral distress is related to situation in which clinicians are asked to carry our acts that run contrary to their moral compass. Clinicians who care for dying patients are at risk of all of these and it is vital that palliative care clinicians are aware of these potential problems and with strategies to mitigate risks and to manage them when they present either in their own individual lives or in the work environment.

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