Objectives: To explore the expressions of gratitude (EoG) received from patients and relatives and their influence on palliative care professionals (PCPs).
Methods: A national online survey was sent to a representative of PCPs of each service listed in the national directory of palliative care (PC) services (n=272) (ie, hospital PC support team, hospice, paediatrics, etc). The questionnaire was pilot tested with experts. It comprised three sections: the overall perspective of receiving gratitude in the service, the personal experience of its influence and sociodemographic questions. A mailing schedule was designed to enhance the response rate.
Results: 186 representatives from all over Spain completed the questionnaire (68% response rate). 79% of service representatives reported that they almost always received EoG. These came mainly from families (93%). These EoG were very often put on display (84%) and shared with other health professionals (HPs) involved in care (45%). EoG evoked positive feelings in the team members. Based on their experience, respondents attributed different functions to these EoG: increased professional satisfaction (89%), a source of support in difficult times (89%), mood improvement, encouragement to continue and rewards for effort (88%). Services, where gratitude was more frequently received, were associated with PCPs who more frequently reported being proud of their work (p=0.039, Pearson's correlation test).
Conclusions: Gratitude from patients and relatives was frequent and significant to those who work in PC. HPs considered that EoG offer multiple beneficial effects and also a protective role in their practice against distress and an increase in resilience skills.