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Resilience in inpatient palliative care nursing: a qualitative systematic review
  1. Martin J Powell,
  2. Katherine Froggatt and
  3. Sabir Giga
  1. Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  1. Correspondence to Martin J Powell, Lancaster University Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster LA1 4YG, UK; martinpowell2014{at}


Background Nurses in inpatient palliative care are frequently exposed to death and dying in addition to common stressors found in other nursing practice. Resilience may mitigate against stress but remains ill-defined and under-researched in the specialist palliative care setting.

Objective The aim of this systematic review was to understand resilience from the perspectives of inpatient palliative care nurses.

Design A thematic synthesis of qualitative studies was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.

Data sources Academic Search Ultimate, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline Complete, PsycINFO and Scopus.

Review methods The review stages were searching for relevant literature, selecting relevant papers, data extraction, critical appraisal and thematic synthesis.

Results Eight studies revealed 10 subthemes, 3 descriptive themes and 1 analytical theme: resilience occurs when nurses incorporate stressful aspects of their personal or professional lives into a coherent narrative that enhances their ability to cope with the demands of their role.

Conclusion Palliative care nursing is more stressful if patients or situations remind nurses of personal experiences. Nurses cope better with adequate support; however, coping does not necessarily imply increased resilience. Resilience occurs when nurses cognitively process their experiences, articulate their thoughts and feelings into a coherent narrative, and construct a sense of meaning or purpose. Future research could explore how nurses understand resilience and how it could be enhanced in the palliative care inpatient setting. With resilience, nurses may remain in the profession longer and improve the quality of care when they do.

  • resilience
  • hospice care
  • stress
  • coping
  • literature review

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.