DNP Scholarly Projects



Background: Because hospice professionals are repeatedly exposed to death, they are at a higher risk of developing compassion fatigue (Alkema et al., 2008). Over time, compassion fatigue may result in burnout, potentially causing a depletion of professionals in the hospice field (Gallagher, 2013; Haddad & Toney-Butler, 2020). While the hospice industry cannot afford to lose professionals to burnout, stress from a rapidly growing elderly population and work challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic potentially place hospice professionals at an increased risk. Reflective debriefing has been recommended to provide emotional support to battle job dissatisfaction, compassion fatigue, and burnout (McIntosh, 2019). Purpose: The purpose of this study was to provide reflective debriefing sessions to hospice professionals and identify common themes reported about their professional and personal experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A qualitative descriptive design using focus groups set up as reflective debriefing sessions based on the Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle was chosen. The Compassion Satisfaction-Compassion Fatigue (CS-CF) theory served as the theoretical model. Debriefing sessions were recorded and transcribed for open-coding line-by-line and incident-to-incident coding, followed by identification of themes. Participants were sent a post survey about demographics and the debriefing experience. Results: A total of 26 themes emerged from the data collected from the debriefing sessions. Themes that occurred more than once included, work alterations, challenges, emotion, infection control procedures, patient care, and positives from COVID-19. 96.0% (n = 24) of participants found the debriefing session helpful. 92.3% (n = 24) of participants answered that they would like to regularly debrief at their workplace. Conclusion: Many factors place hospice professionals at risk for compassion fatigue and burnout. During the pandemic, they are at an increased risk of compassion fatigue and burnout from changes in the work, patient, and person environments caused by the pandemic. Findings suggested that questions asked about the pandemic in the form of a debriefing session were helpful to hospice professionals. To address the unprecedented challenges hospice professionals are facing, it is imperative that employers provide them with emotional support.

Keywords: hospice, debriefing, compassion fatigue, pandemic, COVID-19, Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle, Compassion Satisfaction-Compassion Fatigue Theory, qualitative


Spring 4-15-2021

First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Dambrino

Scholarly Project Team Member

Dr. Steven Busby

Scholarly Project Team Member

Dr. Amy Rasmussen


Nursing, School of


Health Sciences & Nursing, Gordon E. Inman College of

Document Type

Scholarly Project


Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Degree Level


Degree Grantor

Belmont University

Included in

Nursing Commons