Resilience in palliative healthcare professionals: a systematic review

Support Care Cancer. 2020 Mar;28(3):971-978. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-05194-1. Epub 2019 Dec 6.


Purpose: Exposure to end-of-life and chronic illness on a daily basis may put palliative healthcare professionals' well-being at risk. Resilience may represent a protective factor against stressful and demanding challenges. Therefore, the aim is to systematically review the quantitative studies on resilience in healthcare professionals providing palliative care to adult patients.

Methods: A literature search on PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and PsycINFO databases was performed. The review process has followed the international PRISMA statement guidelines.

Results: At the initial search, a total of 381 records were identified. Twelve articles were assessed for eligibility and, finally, 6 studies met all the inclusion criteria. Of these, four researches were observational and two interventional pilot studies. From the systematic synthesis, palliative care providers' resilience revealed to be related to other psychological constructs, including secondary traumatic stress, vicarious posttraumatic growth, death anxiety, burnout, compassion satisfaction, hope and perspective taking.

Conclusions: The current systematic review reported informative data leading to consider resilience as a process modulator and facilitator among palliative care professionals. A model on palliative healthcare providers' experience and the role of resilience was proposed. Further studies may lead to its validation and implementation in assessment and intervention contributing to foster palliative healthcare professionals' well-being.

Keywords: Burnout; Chronicity; End-of-life; Healthcare professionals; Palliative care; Resilience.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Empathy
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Hope
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Terminal Care / psychology