Personally Meaningful Rituals: A Way to Increase Compassion and Decrease Burnout among Hospice Staff and Volunteers.

Journal of palliative medicine

PubMedID: 27337055

Montross-Thomas LP, Scheiber C, Meier EA, Irwin SA. Personally Meaningful Rituals: A Way to Increase Compassion and Decrease Burnout among Hospice Staff and Volunteers. J Palliat Med. 2016;.
BACKGROUND
Rituals can increase a sense of connectedness, meaning, and support, especially after the death of those for whom we care. Hospice staff may benefit from the use of personal rituals as they cope with the frequent deaths of their patients, ultimately aiming to provide compassionate care while minimizing burnout.

OBJECTIVE
This study investigated the role of personally meaningful rituals in increasing compassion and decreasing burnout among hospice staff and volunteers.

DESIGN AND MEASUREMENTS
An online survey was completed by members of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) which inquired about personal ritual practices, and included the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) scale to measure current levels of Compassion Satisfaction, Burnout, and Secondary Traumatic Stress.

SETTING/SUBJECTS
Three hundred ninety hospice staff and volunteers from across 38 states completed the online survey. The majority of participants were Caucasian and female, with an average of nine years of experience in hospice and palliative care.

RESULTS
The majority of hospice staff and volunteers used personally meaningful rituals after the death of their patients to help them cope (71%). Those who used rituals demonstrated significantly higher Compassion Satisfaction and significantly lower Burnout as measured by the ProQOL, with professional support, social support, and age playing significant roles as well.

CONCLUSIONS
Rituals may be an important way to increase compassion and decrease burnout among hospice staff and volunteers. Organizations may benefit from providing training and support for personalized rituals among team members, especially new staff who may be at greater risk for burnout.