Is work stress in Palliative care nurses a cause for concern? A literature review

Palliative Care Research Team, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
International journal of palliative nursing 11/2012; 18(11):561-7. DOI: 10.12968/ijpn.2012.18.11.561
Source: PubMed


Palliative care nurses are at risk of work stress because their role involves exposure to frequent deaths and family grieving. Little is known about their degree of stress or whether they suffer stress or burnout more than nurses in other disciplines.
The aim of this paper is to critically examine the current literature concerning stress and burnout in palliative care nurses.
Sixteen papers were included in the review. Although work demands were a common cause of stress in the studies reported, there was no strong evidence that palliative care or hospice nurses experienced higher levels of stress than nurses in other disciplines. Common causes of stress were the work environment, role conflict, and issues with patients and their families. Constructive coping styles appeared to help nurses to manage stress.
Managers have a key role in providing education and training for palliative care nurses to support their personal development and to help reduce vulnerability to and the impact of stress in the workplace.

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    • "The emotional work of nurses is especially important in forming a therapeutic relationship with a patient, but this carries the risk of stress and burnout [33]. In end of life care, palliative and hospice nurses rated stress induced by the workplace environment and work pressures more highly than experiences of frequent deaths [34]. In this field nurses also need to deal with the expectation that the nurse-patient relationship is about to be severed [27]. "
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