OBJECTIVE: Aim of the research was to define the quality of life of Italian neurologists and nurses' professional caring for multiple sclerosis, to understand their living the clinical practice and identify possible signals of compassion fatigue.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: One hundred five neurologists and nurses from 30 Italian multiple sclerosis centres were involved in an online quali-quantitative survey on the organization of care, combined with the Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue Test and a collection of narratives. Descriptive statistics of the quantitative data were integrated with the results obtained by the narrative medicine methods of analysis.
RESULTS: Most of the practitioners were neurologists, 46 average years old, 69% women, 43% part time dedicated to multiple sclerosis. An increased number of patients in the last 3 years were referred in 29 centres. Differences were found between neurologists and nurses. Physicians showed higher risks of burnout, reporting intensive working paces, lack of medical personnel, and anxiety caused by the precarious employment conditions. Nurses appeared more satisfied, although the reference to the lack of spaces, and the cross professional roles risk of compassion fatigue. Both positive and negative relationships of care were depicted as influencing the professional quality of life.
CONCLUSION: The interviewed neurological teams need to limit the risk of compassion fatigue, which appeared from the first years of the career. The prevalence of the risk among neurologists suggests more awareness among scientific societies and health care managers on the risk for this category, as first step to prevent it.