Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Education

Document Type



A large body of literature has explored the impact of compassion fatigue on individuals who work within various helping professions. Few studies, however, have sought to understand its impact on educators, more specifically student affairs professionals. As the number of students attending college with diagnosed mental health issues, and scrutinized attention is given to traumatic and crisis events that occur on campuses, student affairs professionals are often the first ones who respond and interact with the affected students. Student affairs professionals spend countless hours connecting impacted students to available resources as well as serving as a resource regardless of the day of the week or time of day. Given the helping profession role that many student affairs professionals provide, the purpose of this study was to better understand compassion fatigue, through burnout and secondary traumatic stress scales, in student affairs professionals who assist students experiencing a traumatic or crisis life even and compare them to their peers.

Utilizing the Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) survey instrument, this study utilized multivariate regression analysis to compare compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue scores (burnout and secondary traumatic stress) of 220 student affairs professionals who spent different amounts of time assisting students through a traumatic or crisis experience. The analysis determined significant statistical differences in groups based on the average amount of time per week devoted to supporting students dealing with trauma, and other factors such as serving on the institution’s crisis response team or its equivalent, and demographic factors such as age and gender. Results were reviewed and compared to existing literature focused on compassion fatigue of other helping professions.



Committee Chair

Kennedy, Eugene