Gratitude between patients and their families and health professionals: A scoping review

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To synthesize existing evidence regarding gratitude in health care relationships, with a specific focus on expressions of gratitude from patients and their families to health professionals, including their meaning and impact.


Studying expressions of gratitude by patients and their families within the scope of health care is an innovative way of identifying the most valuable elements of care.


A scoping review of three data bases was conducted using the terms gratitude and health professionals (1984–2016). Data were extracted, analysed thematically and synthesized.

Key Issues:

A total of 32 publications were identified, around half being opinions or reflections. Thematic analysis resulted in the identification of three themes: the characteristics of expressions of gratitude, the focus of expressions of gratitude and the effect of gratitude on health professionals.


Expressions of gratitude by patients and their families may have an important personal and professional effect on health professionals that is long lasting. A systematic study of its effect is needed.

Implications for Nursing Management:

Gratitude from patients and their families may contribute to motivation and retention among health professionals. Gratitude can be nurtured and is associated with a healthy work environment.

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