Underneath the White Coat: Risk and Protective Factors for Palliative Care Providers in Their Daily Work

Marina Maffoni, Piergiorgio Argentero, Ines Giorgi, Anna Giardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Palliative care practice is associated with risk factors linked to end-of-life, chronicity, personal, interpersonal, and work characteristics, as well as with protective factors, but how these are perceived by the health care providers themselves is not clear. This article aims to elaborate a theoretical framework explaining the risk and protective factors for palliative care providers in their daily practice. Nineteen providers (16 nurses, 3 physicians) working in a palliative care unit of a clinical-research institute in Northern Italy were interviewed. A Grounded Theory qualitative approach guided the data collection and analysis. From the interviews, 28 codes, subsequently organized into 11 interconnected categories, emerged. They described both stressors (emotion management regarding death/dying, conflicts, communication and relationship with patients/caregivers, discrepancies between patients' and caregivers' needs, communication of poor diagnosis/prognosis, decision making about treatment, and real-life and work interference) and protective factors (social support, positive approach and value of past experience, recognized value of/passion toward professional work, work-family balance). Experiencing these elements as positive or negative depends on the professionals' point of view, as well as their past and present experience.Understanding what dealing with life-limiting illnesses means may suggest tailored interventions to improve professionals' well-being by fostering the protective elements and combatting the risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-114
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of hospice and palliative nursing : JHPN : the official journal of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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