Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Caring for sick kids: An integrative review of the evidence about the prevalence of compassion fatigue and effects on pediatric nurse retention

Published Web Location
No data is associated with this publication.


Compassion Fatigue (CF) in healthcare professionals has been explored in multiple studies, but few focused on hospital-based pediatric nurses. The purpose of this integrative review is to synthesize the evidence about CF prevalence in nurses caring for pediatric patients, and to describe its effects on retention and job satisfaction.

Eligibility criteria

Included studies were in English from any date describing research or quality improvement studies about CF in pediatric nurses.


An integrative review of nine electronic databases yielded 13 articles about 1921 nurses. Data were synthesized from four qualitative and nine quantitative studies separately before integrating results. A risk of bias analysis was included for evidence level and quality.


Overall CF prevalence was low, but 14% of nurses were at high risk of burnout and 10% were at high risk for secondary traumatic stress. Studies examining the effects of CF on retention found no significant relationship. Most studies were about critical care or oncology nurses.


A subset of pediatric nurses is highly vulnerable to CF, but more high-quality evidence is needed to fully address this topic. Leaders should study CF prevalence, protective and exacerbating factors, relationships between CF and retention, and targeted strategies to resolve CF in high-risk nurses.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item