Assessing Compassion Satisfaction and Fatigue with the Professional Quality of Life Scale

Adams (2011) and Pennebaker (2004) advise that journal writing must remain structured, in order to stave off feeling out-of-control or experiencing despair as a result of confronting a situation. Self-assessments offer a way to focus journal exercises. The Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL) (Appendix 13.1) (Stamm, 2012) asks individuals to consider their current work or volunteer situation, and the results are evaluated to determine the participant’s levels of Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue (either Burnout or Secondary Trauma).[1] With these results, volunteers can understand specific areas of focus in order to combat secondary trauma and burnout.

Creating a Self-Care Plan

Where the ProQOL assesses areas of risk and need, writing can be used to help a volunteer understand their current self-care practices as well as assist in brainstorming new methods. The Self-Care Plan Worksheet (Appendix 13.2) (Reiser and Butler, n.d.) provides a structured, manageable outlet for this understanding to which the volunteer can continually refer. The worksheet asks the participant to consider their current methods for self-care within six domains that affect an individual’s sense of well-being: mind, body, emotions, spirit, work, and relationships. By comparing current practices (if any) to the results of the ProQOL Scale, it becomes possible to identify which domain of self-care has the greatest effect on personal well-being and thus create a focus for which aspects of self-care should be altered or improved. For example, if the ProQOL Scale indicated a high score for both Compassion Satisfaction and Burnout, the volunteer likely feels satisfied in their work but should focus on self-care methods in which they make themselves a priority (using the categories of Body, Mind, or Spirit) before helping others (which would fall under the categories of Work or Relationships).

  • [1] The measures to evaluate results can be found at
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