Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

College of Health Professions


Health Professions

Major Advisor


Second Advisor

Dr. Nancy York, RN, CNE

Third Advisor

Dr. Sherrill Cronin, RN-BC

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Megan Danzl, PT, DPT, PhD, NCS


Background: Research on professional quality of life (QOL) variables in healthcare providers proliferated following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence suggests that caregiving careers have positive and negative effects (Beck, 2011). Insufficient research describes these effects in respiratory therapists (RTs), a group of healthcare practitioners who often work in high-stress situations and provide care to high-acuity patient populations.

Purpose: This study evaluated the prevalence and predictors of professional QOL factors, compassion satisfaction (CS), burnout, and secondary traumatic stress (STS), in staff RTs in the United States.

Methods: RTs were invited to participate in a cross-sectional survey evaluating demographics, workplace characteristics, personal lifestyle factors, and professional QOL domains,.

Results: A total of 575 RTs were included in the study. Most participants reported moderate levels of CS (67.1%), burnout (91.8%), and STS (64.9%), with better professional QOL scores in participants caring for pediatric patients compared to those caring for adult populations. Among the 16 predictor variables, workplace factors played the largest role in predicting the variance in CS, burnout, and STS.

Conclusions: RTs experience positive and negative effects of their work with patients suffering cardiopulmonary illness. Opportunities for maximizing professional QOL in RTs include addressing workload in the context of number, type, and acuity of patients, as well as increasing staff support through workplace resources and leadership actions to help staff feel valued for their work.

Available for download on Saturday, April 06, 2024