What do we know about emotional labour in nursing? A narrative review

Sondra Badolamenti, Alessandro Sili, Rosario Caruso, Roberta Fida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
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Nurses have to manage their emotions and the expression of emotion to perform best care, and their behaviours pass through emotional labour (EL). However, EL seems to be an under-appreciated aspect of caring work and there is no synthetic portrait of literature about EL in the nursing profession. This review was conducted to synthesise and to critically analyse the literature in the nursing field related to EL. Twenty-seven papers were included and analysed with a narrative approach, where two main themes were found: EL strategies and EL antecedents and consequences. Hence, EL is a multidimensional, complex concept and it represents a nursing competence to provide the best care. Moreover, nurses have a high awareness of EL as a professional competence, which is a fundamental element to balance engagement with an appropriate degree of detachment to accomplish tasks for best practice, and to provide high-quality patient care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-55
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number1
Early online date12 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • Emotional labour
  • Emotion work
  • Nursing
  • Surface acting
  • Deep acting

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