Compassion Satisfaction, Burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress among Humanitarian Workers in Gashora Emergency Transit Mechanism Rwanda


  • Dejen Yehalaw Gebreslassie Mount Kenya University, Kigali, Rwanda
  • Dr. Eugenia Nkechi Irechukwu (PhD) Mount Kenya University, Kigali, Rwanda



Although working with vulnerable groups such as displaced persons requires a great deal of compassion and care, it may also inflict a significant impact on the helper. The purpose of this research was to determine compassion satisfaction (CS), burnout (BO) and secondary traumatic stress (STS) among humanitarian workers in Gashora ETM.  This quantitative cross-sectional study utilized demographic questionnaire and ProQOL-5 scale for data collection. The respondents in this study were included using census method. Descriptive statistics, Spearman’s rho correlation test, and regression analysis were utilized for data analyses. The study included 78 participants, with an almost equal gender distribution (50% male, 47.4% female, 2.6% undisclosed). The majority aged 26-35 (48.7%) or 36-45 (37.2%). Most held a Bachelor’s Degree (64.1%) or a Master’s Degree (29.5%), and were married (62.8%). The majority were of Rwandan nationality (65.4%). Most respondents held non-managerial positions (74.4%). Experience in humanitarian work varied, with the majority having less than five years (47.4%). Most were employed by NGOs (52.5%), with others working for the UN agencies (42.3%) or government (5.1%). Most participants (94.9%) reported that their work involved listening to clients’ traumatic experiences. The study found that most participants had high CS (79.5%) and BO (75.6%), with moderate STS (78.2%). Findings showed that CS explained 43.5% of the variability in burnout and for every unit increase in CS, the BO declined by 0.660 units assuming all other variables are held constant (t = -7649, CI = [-0.831, -0.488]). The study findings also showed that 19.3% of change in STS were attributable to BO and for each unit increase in BO, the STS increased by 0.440 unit assuming all other variables are held constant (t = 4.267, CI = [0.234, -0.645]). Between STS and CS, on the other hand, non-statistically significant weak negative correlation was obtained (r (78) = [-0.18], P = [0.877). Respondents with Rwandan nationality had 3.6 higher odds of experiencing high CS compared to those with non-Rwandan nationality (AOR = 3.667, P < 0.05, 95% CI = [1.139, 11.808]). Respondents who were employed with UN were less likely to develop BO compared to those who work for NGOs (AOR = 0.240, P = 0.045, 95% CI = [0.059, 0.969]). Respondents with Non Rwandan nationalities were more likely to experience STS than those with Rwandan nationalities (AOR = 12.446, P = 0.020, 95% CI = [1.500, 103.28]). Additionally, respondents with non-managerial position had the higher odds of developing STS compared to those with managerial role in their organization (AOR = 3.855, P = 0.033, 95% CI = [1.119, 13.283]). Organizations, especially NGOs, should consider implementing or strengthening support systems to help manage stress and prevent burnout among employees.

Keywords: Compassion satisfaction, burnout, secondary traumatic stress, Humanitarian workers

Author Biographies

Dejen Yehalaw Gebreslassie, Mount Kenya University, Kigali, Rwanda

School of Social Science, Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, Mount Kenya University, Rwanda

Dr. Eugenia Nkechi Irechukwu (PhD), Mount Kenya University, Kigali, Rwanda

DVC Research and Academic Affairs Mount Kenya University, Rwanda


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How to Cite

Gebreslassie, D. Y., and E. N. Irechukwu. “Compassion Satisfaction, Burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress Among Humanitarian Workers in Gashora Emergency Transit Mechanism Rwanda”. Journal of Sociology, Psychology & Religious Studies, vol. 5, no. 2, Dec. 2023, pp. 160-81, doi:10.53819/81018102t2292.