Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Social work with the terminally ill, Social workers-Psychology, Secondary traumatic stress-Prevention, Self-care, Health, Self-care, Oncology social work, Compassion fatigue, Qualitative


This qualitative study explores the ways in which oncology social workers employ self-care. Twelve oncology social workers throughout the nation were interviewed and their personal narratives addressed the role that self-care plays in a field with compassion fatigue, death and other intense emotional reactions to patients and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis. A semi-structured interview explored why participants chose the field of oncology as well as self-care practices they found helpful throughout their careers. The interview guide also included a focus on the rewards and challenges of the work and how outlooks on life were impacted as a result of the work. Findings indicate that while the field is subjected to a substantial amount of emotional challenges and many risks for compassion fatigue, oncology social workers recognize the need for self-care and that they practice self-care in a variety of ways. The data also identifies the need for agency support as a facilitator of self-care.




iii, 55 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 48-49)