Coping Strategies of Nurses in a Palliative Care Unit

Academic Article


  • The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the coping strategies of staff nurses working in palliative care. Death and dying are important aspects of nurses' day-to-day work in palliative care and considered stressful, yet satisfying. The sensitive feelings of nurses and delicate emotions may lead to burnout, compassion fatigue, and overall poor clinical judgments, thus resulting in unsafe patient care. Little contemporary evidence exists regarding the effect of workplace stress on palliative care nurses or their coping strategies. In this qualitative descriptive study, 11 registered nurses working in a palliative care unit were recruited to participate using purposive sampling. Data were collected through a 10-item, open-ended survey developed by the researcher to examine the coping strategies of palliative care nurses. Analysis of the data yielded the following themes related to coping strategies: spirituality, support from colleagues and managers, and use of resources. The results of this study revealed important concerns for nurses as caregivers of dying patients in palliative care and suggested a need for nurses to discover multiple ways in which they can cope with their grief. The findings of the study illustrate that nurses use a combination of strategies to internally and externally cope with the management of patients on the palliative care unit. With a better understanding of how palliative care nurses currently cope, strategies can be recognized to improve these coping skills. This includes organizational support, and social support at work with colleagues, family, and friends.
  • Author List

  • Lowe MA; Gakumo CA; Patrician PA
  • Start Page

  • 50
  • End Page

  • 54
  • Volume

  • 27
  • Issue

  • 2