Nursing assistants' perceptions and experiences with the emotional impact of providing palliative care: A qualitative interview study in nursing homes

AFQ Dijxhoorn, Y Heijnen, Y van der Linden, C Leget, NJH Raijmakers, L Brom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: To gain insight into the perceived emotional impact of providing palliative care among nursing assistants in Dutch nursing homes, their strategies in coping with this impact and associated needs. Design: Exploratory qualitative study. Methods: In 2022, 17 semistructured interviews with nursing assistants working in Dutch nursing homes were conducted. Participants were recruited via personal networks and social media. Interviews were open-coded by three independent researchers following the thematic analysis approach. Results: Three themes emerged regarding the elements that contribute to the emotional impact of providing palliative care in nursing homes: impactful situations (e.g. witnessing suffering and sudden deaths), interactions (e.g. close relationship and receiving gratitude) and reflection on provided care (e.g. feeling fulfilment or feeling inadequate in caring). Nursing assistants used different strategies to cope, including emotional processing activities, their attitude towards death and work and gaining experience. Participants experienced a need for more education in palliative care and organized peer group meetings. Conclusion: Elements that play a role in how the emotional impact of providing palliative care is perceived by nursing assistants can have a positive or negative impact. Implications for the Profession and/or Patient Care: Nursing assistants should be better supported in coping with the emotional impact of providing palliative care. Impact: In nursing homes, nursing assistants are most involved in providing daily care to residents and have a signalling role in recognizing the deteriorating conditions of residents. Despite their prominent role, little is known about the emotional impact of providing palliative care among these professionals. This study shows that although nursing assistants already undertake various activities to reduce the emotional impact, employers should be aware of the unmet needs in this area and the responsibility they have in this regard. Reporting Method: The QOREQ checklist was used for reporting. Patient or Public Contribution: No patient or public contribution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3876-3887
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2023


  • Nursing assistants
  • Nursing workforce
  • Palliative care
  • Qualitative research
  • Well-being

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