Oncology health professionals experience high levels of burnout and compassion fatigue, affecting their health and the care they provide. This study aimed to establish whether present-centered awareness and attention (a component of mindfulness) is uniquely associated with burnout and compassion fatigue in oncology professionals.
An international sample of oncology professionals (n = 118) completed an online questionnaire with validated measures of present-centered awareness and attention, empathy, compassion fatigue, and burnout. Hierarchical multiple regressions were used to model relations among the independent variable (present-centered awareness and attention) and the criterion variables of burnout (disengagement, exhaustion) and compassion fatigue (compassion satisfaction, compassion burnout, secondary traumatic stress) after statistically controlling for empathy, age, gender, years of experience, and patient contact hours.
Mean hours of patient contact per week was 23.52 (SD = 13.62), with 26 (22.03%) reporting 40 h or more. Higher hours of patient contact per week were positively associated with secondary traumatic stress. Present-centered awareness and attention was associated with lower disengagement, lower emotional exhaustion, higher compassion satisfaction, lower secondary traumatic stress, and lower compassion burnout. In each model, present-centered awareness accounted for unique variance after controlling for age, gender, years of experience, patient contact hours per week, and empathy scores. The amount of unique variance accounted for by present-centered awareness ranged from 4 to 10%.
Oncology professionals reporting higher levels of present-centered awareness and attention reported higher compassion satisfaction and lower secondary traumatic stress, compassion burnout, exhaustion, and disengagement. Promoting present-centered awareness may be a mechanism that contributes to less burnout in oncology professionals.