Vakgroep Psychologie, Gezondheid & Technologie

Risk factors for compassion fatigue and diminished wellbeing in crisis line volunteers (vrijwilligers van Sensoor, telefonische hulpdienst)

Type of assignment:                    Ba
Internal or external?:                   Internal/external: location
Max number of students?           1
Individual collecting of data?      Yes
Type of research:                        Qualitative interviews and/or systematic literature review

Brief description of the assignment
Central to the government policy, the ‘participation society’ refers to a society in which all citizens across the board participate in society, including in health care. The participation society is necessary because: (1) the costs of health care are growing faster than expected, and (2) the availability of health care is under pressure due to the aging of the population (Rijksoverheid, 2011). These developments have caused a (forced) transfer from formal to informal care. In 2015, more than 450,000 people gave shape to the society participation through informal care in form of volunteering (Movisie, 2014).

Sensoor ( is a national aid organization which provides a gateway to and safety net around professional care. Sensoor is an organization with more than nine hundred trained volunteers.  Sensoor offers remote anonymous help by phone, chat and email to people who are in need of a “listening ear”, and is the largest informal caregiver organization in the Netherlands. The volunteers, who are accessible night and day for "a conversation between people", conduct annually 250,000 phone calls and 13,000 e-mail and chat conversations. Sensoor aims to reduce acute problems of callers, chatters and emailers, to avoid potential problems and / or encourage personal development and reflection.

Working as a volunteer at Sensoor can be highly rewarding, but may also be tough at times. Volunteers are expected to feel compassion for the other and to be able to cope with the suffering of others, this can be highly demanding. There have been a number of studies on so called “compassion fatigue” and reduced resilience in professionals who are often exposed to suffering (Figley, 2002; Thieleman & Caciatore, 2014), but research among volunteers is scarce.

In this assignment you will conduct and analyze a number of qualitative interviews with volunteers of Sensoor, to find out to what extent they experience symptoms of compassion fatigue or reduced resilience, and to map their needs and wishes regarding a supportive (smartphone) intervention (based on self-compassion).

Who are we looking for? Students who are interested in the topic of compassion fatigue and who would like to make contact with volunteers who provide assistance to anonymous callers, chatters and emailers. Students should be able to speak and understand the Dutch language.

What are we offering? Opportunity to gain experience with interview skills and qualitative data analysis.

More information?: or

Supervisor: C.H.C. Drossaert

Interesting literature:
Figley, C. R. (2002). Compassion fatigue: Psychotherapists’ chronic lack of self care. Psychotherapy in Practice, 58(11), 1433-1441. doi:10.1002/jclp.10090
Sensoor. (2015). Sensoor. (2015, december 02). Sensoor. Opgehaald van Sensoor.  Retrieved from