Sandra Pereira, Antonio Fonseca, Ana Sofia Carvalho
International Journal of Palliative Nursing, Vol. 18, Iss. 8, 21 Aug 2012, pp 373 - 381
Repeat contact with suffering, dying, and death is considered to be a risk factor for burnout among health professionals, particularly nurses working in palliative care. A mixed methods study was conducted to identify burnout levels, risk and protective factors, prevention strategies, and the emotional impact of working in palliative care among nurses in Portugal. A quantitative questionnaire was completed by nursing members of nine different palliative care teams and was supported by interviews and observation. Although the participants were exposed to risk factors, such as work overload, disorganisation, difficult relationships within the team and with patients' relatives, they showed a low risk of burnout. These results appear to be related both to the protective factors identified-namely the ethic of care in the relationship the nurses establish with patients, families, and within their teams-and to the preventive strategies they actively adopt for burnout prevention. The positive aspects of the nurses' roles help them to build a positive view of their work, which also promotes their own personal and professional development.