Poor psychological well-being among healthcare staff has implications for staff sickness and absence rates, and impacts on the quality, cost and safety of patient care. Although numerous studies have explored the well-being of hospice staff, study findings vary and the evidence has not yet been reviewed and synthesised. Using job demands-resources (JD-R) theory, this review aimed to investigate what factors are associated with the well-being of hospice staff.
We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL and PsycINFO for peer-reviewed quantitative, qualitative or mixed-methods studies focused on understanding what contributes to the well-being of hospice staff who provide care to patients (adults and children). The date of the last search was 11 March 2022. Studies were published from 2000 onwards in the English language and conducted in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Study quality was assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Data synthesis was conducted using a result-based convergent design, which involved an iterative, thematic approach of collating data into distinct factors and mapping these to the JD-R theory.
A total of 4016 unique records were screened by title and abstract, 115 full-text articles were retrieved and reviewed and 27 articles describing 23 studies were included in the review. The majority of the evidence came from studies of staff working with adult patients. Twenty-seven individual factors were identified in the included studies. There is a strong and moderate evidence that 21 of the 27 identified factors can influence hospice staff well-being. These 21 factors can be grouped into three categories: (1) those that are specific to the hospice environment and role, such as the complexity and diversity of the hospice role; (2) those that have been found to be associated with well-being in other similar settings, such as relationships with patients and their families; and (3) those that affect workers regardless of their role and work environment, that is, that are not unique to working in a healthcare role, such as workload and working relationships. There was strong evidence that neither staff demographic characteristics nor education level can influence well-being.
The factors identified in this review highlight the importance of assessing both positive and negative domains of experience to determine coping interventions. Hospice organisations should aim to offer a wide range of interventions to ensure their staff have access to something that works for them. These should involve continuing or commencing initiatives to protect the factors that make hospices good environments in which to work, as well as recognising that hospice staff are also subject to many of the same factors that affect psychological well-being in all work environments. Only two studies included in the review were set in children’s hospices, suggesting that more research is needed in these settings.
CRD42019136721 (Deviations from the protocol are noted in Table 8, Supplementary material).