Factors contributing to burnout and work-life balance in adult oncology nursing: An integrative review

  • Louise Gribben
    Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Craigavon Area Hospital, 68 Lurgan Rd, Portadown, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, BT63 5QQ, United Kingdom
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  • Cherith Jane Semple
    Corresponding author. Ulster Univeristy, Jordanstown Campus, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, BT37 0QB, United Kingdom.
    Ulster Univeristy, Jordanstown Campus, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, BT37 0QB, United Kingdom

    South Eastern Health Social Care Trust, Belfast, Northern Irealnd, BT16 1RH, United Kingdom
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Published:December 08, 2020DOI:


      • Burnout is classified and conceptualised as a complex occupational-related condition.
      • Workplace demands are influenced by patient acuity, constant exposure to difficult situations and additional duties performed remotely.
      • Disparate findings with how demographic factors influence burnout, however there is a trend towards increased burnout in younger nurses.
      • Little research attention has been afforded to the importance of work-life balance for adult oncology nurses.
      • To effectively address burnout, it should be approached at both an organisational and individual level.



      Occupational stress and burnout are highlighted as the most prevalent workplace issues for adult oncology nurses. With today's global nursing workforce shortage; coupled with oncology being an inherently challenging and complex speciality, this clearly indicates the need to understand factors that contribute to burnout in adult oncology nurses and improve work-life balance. The aim of this integrative review is to synthesis the evidence on burnout and work-life balance for adult oncology nurses.


      A systematic search of four databases (CINAHL, Ovid Medline, PsycINFO and Scopus), identified 17 quantitative and three mixed-method studies. Studies were critically appraised using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Following data extraction, a qualitative evidence synthesis utilising an inductive approach was adopted to better understand influential factors, generating analytical themes.


      One study had a specific focus on what ameliorates work-life balance for oncology nurses; depicting an area that warrants further study. All studies reported on burnout, of which six analytical themes were further categorised into two broad themes, namely: (1) ‘Inability to thrive’: struggling with workplace burnout due to organisational challenges and (2) ‘Personal perspectives influencing burnout’, for adult oncology nurses. Burnout was influenced by multiple oncology-specific factors due to quantitative workload demands and disease acuity. Workplace culture, shift in additional hours being worked remotely and personal characteristics of the nurse, also influenced susceptibility for the development of burnout in oncology nurses.


      Confronting burnout and promoting wellness are the shared responsibility of both individual adult oncology nurses and their organisations to build resilience and help sustain and build workforce capacity.


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