Original Research

A pilot study to test psychophonetics methodology for self-care and empathy in compassion fatigue, burnout and secondary traumatic stress

Katherine J. Train, Nadine Butler
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 5, No 1 | a497 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v5i1.497 | © 2013 Katherine J. Train, Nadine Butler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 October 2012 | Published: 13 September 2013

About the author(s)

Katherine J. Train, School of Pharmacy, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Nadine Butler, School of Pharmacy, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

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Background: Home-based care is recognised as being a stressful occupation. Practitioners working with patients experiencing high levels of trauma may be susceptible to compassion fatigue, with the sustained need to remain empathic being a contributing factor.

Objectives: The aim of this research was to evaluate psychophonetics methodology for self-care and empathy skills as an intervention for compassion fatigue. Objectives were to measure levels of compassion fatigue pre-intervention, then to apply the intervention and retest levels one month and six months post-intervention.

Method: The research applied a pilot test of a developed intervention as a quasi-experiment.The study sample comprised home-based carers working with HIV-positive patients at a hospice in Grabouw, a settlement in the Western Cape facing socioeconomic challenge.

Results: The result of the pilot study showed a statistically-significant improvement in secondary traumatic stress, a component of compassion fatigue, measured with the ProQOL v5 instrument post-intervention.

Conclusion: The results gave adequate indication for the implementation of a larger study in order to apply and test the intervention. The study highlights a dire need for further research in this field.


psychophonetics; compassion fatigue; burnout; empathy; secondary traumatic stress ProQOL


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Crossref Citations

1. A survey of compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue in nurses practicing in three oncology departments in Durban, South Africa
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doi: 10.1016/j.ijans.2018.03.004