• compassion;
  • compassion fatigue;
  • empathy

Health outcomes and, in particular, patient health outcomes have become a driving force within health-care delivery. Little emphasis has been placed on the potential health consequences for nurses providing care and caring within the health-care system. Compassion fatigue (or secondary traumatic stress) has emerged as a natural consequence of caring for clients who are in pain, suffering or traumatized. This paper sheds light on how nursing work might impact the health of nurses by exploring the concept of compassion fatigue. Limitations of current instruments to measure compassion fatigue are highlighted, and suggestions for future direction are presented.