Critical Factors in Managing Relationally Demanding Jobs, in Care for Very Ill and/or Dying Patients: A Phenomenological Study among Public Hospital Nurses


Background: Workload, interpersonal relationships, professional conflict and the emotional cost of providing care are potential sources of stress and burnout among nurses. Based on experiences of hospital nurses, this paper aims to identify critical factors for nurses in managing relationally demanding situations in care for very ill and/or dying patients. Methods: In-depth interviews were carried out with six nurses, working in a medium-sized hospital in Norway. The interviews were analysed using an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: The lack of identification with the core aspect of the job, relational contact with patients and relatives, and external motivation were found as potential barriers for managing relationally demanding jobs. The results also indicate that the nurses’ experiences of symptoms of burnout can be a result of demands that exceeded the nurses’ resources. A match between personal capacity and demands, mutual support among colleagues and leadership support, and contextual factors are critical to prevent the negative process of burnout. Conclusion: The results underscore the importance of an early response to employees who are beginning to struggle at work and the relevance of a true match between personal capacity and job demands. Moreover support among colleagues and leadership seems critical to prevent a negative process of burnout and help to manage relationally demanding jobs.

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Bjarnadottir, A. and Lillefjell, M. (2015) Critical Factors in Managing Relationally Demanding Jobs, in Care for Very Ill and/or Dying Patients: A Phenomenological Study among Public Hospital Nurses. Open Journal of Nursing, 5, 58-67. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2015.51007.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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