Exploring How Nurses Manage Workplace Stress

LaToya J. M. Harris, DrPH


Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. 2013;15(8):446-454. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Recruitment and retention of hospice nurses have been a challenge in the last decade due, in part, to workplace stress. This research seeks to better understand and expand the current body of knowledge surrounding the coping process for this group. In addition, this research explores the availability and adequacy of workplace coping resources.With the use of a qualitative design, 19 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses participated in focus groups. Each session was audio-recorded and transcribed. Content analysis was performed. Hospice nurses reported that social support, humor, and prayer/meditation were the most effective ways of coping. Most participants shared that their agency offered no formal resources to assist them in times of stress. Informal resourceswere less than favorable and provided little to no long-term therapeutic value. While hospice nurses are managing to find ways to cope using personal resources, organizations have an opportunity to develop quality workplace resources that will bolster coping efforts. This information challenges organizations to explore this issue with nursing staff and establish interventions that build upon successful coping strategies. Future research should focus on identifying policies and practices that best protect this group from the consequences of workplace stress and ensures the longevity of hospice care.


Nursing has and continues to be a prominent force in the hospice movement. Although care is provided through a multidisciplinary team, nursing remains a core professional service for hospice and palliative care programs.[1] urses are responsible for pain control, symptom management, and monitoring vital signs. Theymust also provide psychological and spiritual support not only to the patient but also to the family and/or caregiver. Nursing is therefore considered a pivotal component of the hospice model of care.