What is it about?

Caring for hurt or traumatized people has been linked with experience of compassion fatigue (CF), increasingly we are recognising that this 'cost for caring' can also be experienced by those who work with hurt, stressed or traumatised animals. Compassion fatigue is a combination of burn out and secondary traumatic stress and can lead to a range of negative outcomes for the person experiencing it as well as for those they care for. One of the main tools for assessing risk of CF is the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) scale which has been well supported for those working with humans (e.g., Nurses, frontline emergency workers etc). This study looks at how well the ProQOL captures CF symptoms in those working in animal care/rescue in Australia. Overall the ProQOL was found to be a reasonable fit (the talk matched the numbers) with the lived experience of participants but important differences were found.

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Why is it important?

Increasingly interventions are being developed to target CF/support those in animal rescue/care (including veterinarians) however many of these interventions extrapolate from CF experienced in human care sectors. The relative absence of some aspects of CF (intrusion/avoidance) and the overabundance of others (depression/dissociative) found here suggests that CF may manifest differently in animal carers with attendant need to re-focus interventions.


This project began after an invitation to present to a large group of animal rescue and welfare organisations in Australia. The response to my talk about the 'cost of caring' was overwhelming and unanimous, this was a topic that needed further work. Thankfully others have also been working on this topic and recognition of CF in the sector is growing.

Tania Signal
Central Queensland University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Does the talk match the numbers? ProQOL and compassion fatigue in animal rescue., Traumatology An International Journal, May 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/trm0000384.
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