Burnout and Compassion Satisfaction: Survey Findings of Healthcare Employee Wellness During COVID-19 Pandemic using ProQOL


  • Meagan L. Dwyer, Ph.D. University of Kansas Medical Center
  • Marcus Alt, Ph.D. University of Kansas School of Medicine
  • Joanna Veazey Brooks, Ph.D., MBE University of Kansas School of Medicine
  • Hannah Katz, Psy.D. University of Kansas School of Medicine
  • Albert B. Poje, Ph.D. University of Kansas School of Medicine




Burnout, COVID-19, Healthcare workforce


Introduction. Healthcare systems are being bombarded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding burnout, compassion fatigue, and potential protective factors, such as compassion satisfaction, will be important in supporting the vital healthcare workforce. The goal of the current study was to understand the key factors of burnout, compassion fatigue, and compassion satisfaction among healthcare employees during the pandemic within the U.S. in April 2020.

Methods. The authors conducted a single-center, cross-sectional online survey using the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) Questionnaire and three open-ended questions around stress and responses to stress during COVID-19 at a large Midwestern academic medical center with nearly 16,000 employees.   

Results. Healthcare employees (613) representing over 25 professions or roles and 30 different departments within the health system were surveyed. Participants reported low levels of compassion fatigue and burnout, but moderate levels of compassion satisfaction. Compassion satisfaction was notably higher than prior literature. Key areas of stress outside of work included family, finances and housing, childcare and homeschooling, and personal health. 

Conclusions. This was a cross-sectional survey, limiting causal analyses. Also, based on the qualitative responses, the ProQOL was somewhat insufficient in assessing the breadth of stressors, particularly outside of work, that healthcare employees faced due to the pandemic. Although compassion satisfaction was elevated during the initial phases of the pandemic, providing some possible protection against burnout, this may change as COVID-19 continues to surge. Healthcare systems are encouraged to assess and address the broad range of work and non-work-related stressors to best serve their vital workforce.






Original Research