Date of Conferral







Susan H. Marcus


The number of elderly people living with terminal diagnoses has increased, along with the need for hospice nurses with specialized training to provide high-quality personal care that addresses their unique, critical needs. Research on nurses and other professionals who function in a demanding environment has demonstrated the experience of work stress, and negative physical and psychological consequences. However, little is known about the unique work stress and challenges of hospice nurses who care for the dying elderly. This study explored the meaning of hospice nurses’ experience of work stress and coping. Giorgi’s empirical phenomenological approach guided the development of the procedures and analyses; appraisal theory guided the development of the interview questions and interpretation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 eldercare hospice nurses. Resulting themes included: the experience of work stress as “a typical workday”; the personal and professional meaning of nursing the dying elderly; and the meaning of coping through educating patients and family members, consultation with colleagues, and “managing the situation”. Organizational barriers in a typical day included changes in the hospice model, increased workload with insufficient staff, and unclear, burdensome policies. These barriers were seen as more stressful than nursing. The findings have the potential to assist healthcare employers, gatekeepers, and human resource managers in maintaining employee job satisfaction and job retention. This study can contribute to positive social change by educating healthcare administrators and nursing personnel to reduce organizational barriers and cultivate greater organizational support.

Included in

Psychology Commons