The professional quality of life (ProQOL) is the quality one feels about her/his work as a helper. ProQOL includes both positive (Compassion Satisfaction, CS) and negative (Compassion Fatigue, CF) aspects. CF breaks into two dimensions: burnout (BO) and secondary traumatic stress (STS). In the case of many professionals, e.g., nurses, their ability to regulate emotional distress arising from the exposure to the suffering of others (i.e., emotion regulation, ER) is at the core of caring and is expected to be related to their well-being. Consequently, ER individual ability and individual level of ProQOL could influence the type of strategy a nurse chooses to adopt in specific situations of caring for patients in pain. We aimed to assess: 1) which, among three strategies (i.e., distraction, reappraisal and brooding), nurses choose to adopt in their relationship with a suffering patient; 2) if this choice varies according to nurses’ levels of CS/CF; 3) if the individual level of difficulties in ER mediates the relationship between the ProQOL aspects and the choice of the ER strategies. The perceived ability to regulate negative emotions (measured by the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale, DERS) and the positive (CS) and negative (BO and STS) aspects of their job (measured by the ProQOL Scale) were assessed in 213 nurses (83.6% females, Mage = 36.73, SD = 11.05) working in various public departments. In addition, each participant was asked to recall a situation in which had cared for a suffering patient and to indicate how much she/he had used each of the three ER strategies measured by the State Emotion Regulation Inventory (SERI). A path model was run and it revealed that the relationship between CS and the choice of all the ER strategies is mediated by individual perceptions of the ability to regulate one's negative emotions (DERS). On the contrary, a direct, negative effect is observed between BO and reappraisal, and a direct positive effect is observed between STS and distraction. These results suggest that the level of CS positively affects the nurse's perception that she/he is able to manage the distress arising from the relationship with the suffering patient, and this guides her/him to the use of various strategies (i.e., she/he relies on a wide ER repertoire; Meneghini et al., in press).
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