A cross-sectional analysis of compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction in maternal–fetal medicine physicians in the United States

Mackenzie N. Naert, Cassandra Pruitt, Alex Sarosi, Jill Berkin, Joanne Stone, Andrea S. Weintraub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Compassion fatigue is secondary traumatic distress experienced by providers from ongoing contact with patients who are suffering. Compassion satisfaction is emotional fulfillment from caring for others. Burnout is distress related to dissonance between job demands and available resources. Although burnout is well-studied, compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue are neglected components of physician well-being. Because of recurrent exposure to adverse outcomes, maternal–fetal medicine providers may be at particular risk for compassion fatigue. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to better characterize both clinical and nonclinical drivers of work-related distress vs satisfaction. STUDY DESIGN: The modified Compassion Fatigue and Satisfaction Self-Test and a questionnaire of professional and personal characteristics were distributed electronically to maternal–fetal medicine providers nationally. Multivariable regression models were constructed for compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction as a function of potential predictors. RESULTS: The survey response rate was 24% (n=366), primarily consisting of White physicians working in academic medical centers. Significant predictors of lower burnout scores included employment at 1 institution for >20 years, discussing work-related distress with friends, and having one's most recent involvement in decision-making for a periviable fetus >6 months ago; distress because of coworkers and personal factors predicted higher scores. Female sex, self-report of significant emotional depletion, use of mental health services, and having other maternal–fetal medicine physicians as part of the care team for a fetus with severe anomalies were significant predictors of higher compassion fatigue scores, whereas White race and having social work as part of the care team for a maternal mortality predicted lower scores. Personal spiritual practice was a significant predictor of higher compassion satisfaction score, whereas employment at current institution for <5 years predicted lower scores. CONCLUSION: Compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and burnout are associated with several modifiable risk factors, such as practice type, having a multidisciplinary team, and emotional support outside of the workplace; these are potential targets for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100989
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics & gynecology MFM
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • burnout
  • compassion fatigue
  • compassion satisfaction
  • maternal-fetal medicine
  • secondary traumatic stress


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