ECG line on the background of the corridor of the hospital medic

Q4 Behavior Is Critical to Quality Patient Care

Vice President of Organizational Consulting, Cindy Lefton, Ph.D., RN, CPXP, was recently published by the American Journal of Critical Care.

Partnering with Lesly Kelly, RN, Ph.D., Lefton co-wrote “Effect of Meaningful Recognition on Critical Care Nurses’ Compassion Fatigue.”


What Is Compassion Fatigue?

Critical care nurses are at risk for compassion fatigue. It’s a state of prolonged stress that can lead to fatigue, apathy, emotional detachment, and in some cases, even substance abuse.

These critical care nurses spend so much time and energy caring for others that they have no energy left for self-care. That lack of self-care and draining of internal reserves can decrease productivity in health care workers. It may ultimately manifest as a lack of compassion toward the very patients these nurses are meant to serve.

What Can Organizations Do to Combat Compassion Fatigue?

Lefton believes that building a Q4 organizational culture can benefit critical care nurses — and their patients. Q4 leadership balances a high regard for results with enormous respect for the people involved. That “people” element is especially critical here.

As in any workplace, health care workers need to see how the organization values and respects their contributions. Regular, meaningful performance feedback can decrease burnout. It also increases nurses’ compassion satisfaction. Similarly, when their overall job satisfaction and enjoyment improve, nurses are less likely to burn out. This decreases their secondary traumatic stress, and increases compassion satisfaction.

When hospitals invest in regular feedback for their nurses, turnover decreases — and that leads to a continuity of care and expertise that can’t be matched.

Lefton says, “Q4 feedback works!  In a large study of over 1,000 ICU nurses from 24 hospitals across the country, the impact of meaningful recognition — how a person’s performance made a difference — has been linked to decreased burnout and increased compassion satisfaction. Both of these impact turnover as well.”

Related Insights