Background Stress, compassion fatigue and/or burnout can be destructive to a nurse’s health and career (Ablett & Jones, 2007). It has been identified that hospice nurses face many stressors, but some research has identified that they do not report higher stress levels than other nursing disciplines (Whitebird, Asche, Thompson et al., 2013; Hospice UK, 2015.
Aim(s) The aim was to perform a comprehensive review of the literature and to analyse research on stress, compassion fatigue and/or burnout for hospice nurses, and to identify coping mechanisms that nurses and organisations can undertake. Recommendations for changes to practice will be identified and shared in this literature review.
Methods A wide-ranging search of recent literature correlated to stress, compassion fatigue and/or burnout was undertaken to encapsulate the research published over the last eleven years.
Results Nine studies were included in this literature review. The majority of the nine studies highlight that hospice nurses do not suffer with more stress than other nursing disciplines. The recent studies offer an insight into the coping mechanisms employed to avoid stress and compassion fatigue and/or burnout (Hospice UK, 2015; Montross-Thomas, Scheiber, Meier et al., 2016).
Conclusions Hospice nurses do suffer from stress and are at risk of compassion fatigue and/or burnout. The research has shown that if emotional and physical self-care and organisational strategies are utilised this can reduce the risk of compassion fatigue and/or burnout. If nurses report that these approaches are successful, further research should be undertaken to evidence the benefits of stress reducing strategies.
How innovative or of interest to hospice and palliative care is the abstract?
Some of the stressors nurses face can be directly related to the unique nature of palliative care and dealing with death and dying (Peters, Cant, Sellick et al., 2012; Hawkins, Howard & Oyebode, 2007). Therefore, hospice nurses should be aware of self-care strategies and support available from their organisation, as it may prevent stress, compassion fatigue and/or burnout.
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