School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Laura Rolen


compassion fatigue, burnout, gender, law enforcement




Law enforcement has a long and sordid history with mental health. Recently researchers have begun to dissect the effect of professional and occupational stressors on LEOs. I focused on secondary constructs, compassion fatigue and burnout, that contribute to mental health concerns. Compassion fatigue (CF) and burnout (BO) have been studied most thoroughly in medical settings, but less so in law enforcement settings. While most researchers study law enforcement as a genderless mass, I hypothesized that there is a gender difference in burnout and compassion fatigue levels among Sheriff Deputies (SD). Research aimed to identify how gender differences can contribute to more holistic and specific interventions and support for those deputies struggling with compassion fatigue and burnout. A convenience sample of deputies from Sheriff’s Offices in Oregon completed an online demographic questionnaire, the Professional Quality of Life version 5 tool, which measures compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary traumatic stress, both the Operational Police Stress Questionnaire and the Organizational Police Stress Questionnaire, which measure operational and organizational stress and the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory, which measures personal, work and client burnout. Research determined that there is no significant difference between female and male deputies when determining levels of compassion fatigue (p=.751) or burnout (p=.689). It was also determined that there was no significant difference between corrections and patrol deputies when determining levels of compassion fatigue (p=.372) and burnout (p=.321). Though this research did not find any disparities between genders and divisions (patrol and corrections) related to compassion fatigue and burnout, it did uncover that both genders and divisions have a high level of both compassion fatigue and burnout. This analysis stands in contrast to previous studies showing higher levels of compassion iii fatigue in female than males. Further studies are needed to determine what other factors are currently unaccounted for that have a significant impact on BO.

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