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Caring and Coping: Exploring How Nurses Manage Workplace Stress

Harris, LaToya J. M. DrPH

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: December 2013 - Volume 15 - Issue 8 - p 446–454
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0b013e3182a0de78
Feature Articles

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 resources were 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.

LaToya J. M. Harris, DrPH, is project management officer, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC.

Address correspondence to LaToya J. M. Harris, DrPH, 3552 Bagley Dr, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

The author recognizes the participating hospice agencies and members of the South Carolina Chapter of the Hospice and Palliative Nursing Association for sharing their experiences and time.

© 2013 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.