Many publications address grief in terminally ill patients and their loved ones. In contrast, this paper proposes a hypothetical model for grief reactions in health care professionals (HCPs) working with terminally ill patients. The model integrates three literatures: burnout, coping and personality/occupational interests. Grief-related job stress can culminate in burnout that affects over 50% of physicians treating the terminally and critically ill. Coping behaviors that attenuate burnout differ among HCPs, suggesting that nurses prefer different coping strategies when compared with physicians. The personality and occupational interests literatures provide a rationale for coping differences in HCPs. Personality characteristics associated with occupational preferences provide insight into HCPs' natural propensities for coping with stress. The model addresses personality/occupational differences among health care disciplines, thus providing a plausible explanation for coping differences among HCPs, as well as potential interventions that facilitate HCPs' adjustment to the deaths of their patients.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.