Optimizing the Global Nursing Workforce to Ensure Universal Palliative Care Access and Alleviate Serious Health-Related Suffering Worldwide

William E. Rosa, Amisha Parekh de Campos, Nauzley C. Abedini, Tamryn F. Gray, Huda Abu Saad Huijer, Afsan Bhadelia, Juli Mc Gowan Boit, Samuel Byiringiro, Nigel Crisp, Constance Dahlin, Patricia M. Davidson, Sheila Davis, Liliana De Lima, Paul E. Farmer, Betty R. Ferrell, Vedaste Hategekimana, Viola Karanja, Felicia Marie Knaul, Julius D.N. Kpoeh, Joseph LusakaSamuel T. Matula, Cory McMahon, Salimah H. Meghani, Patricia J. Moreland, Christian Ntizimira, Lukas Radbruch, M. R. Rajagopal, Julia Downing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Palliative care access is fundamental to the highest attainable standard of health and a core component of universal health coverage. Forging universal palliative care access is insurmountable without strategically optimizing the nursing workforce and integrating palliative nursing into health systems at all levels. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored both the critical need for accessible palliative care to alleviate serious health-related suffering and the key role of nurses to achieve this goal. Objectives: 1) Summarize palliative nursing contributions to the expansion of palliative care access; 2) identify emerging nursing roles in alignment with global palliative care recommendations and policy agendas; 3) promote nursing leadership development to enhance universal access to palliative care services. Methods: Empirical and policy literature review; best practice models; recommendations to optimize the palliative nursing workforce. Results: Nurses working across settings provide a considerable untapped resource that can be leveraged to advance palliative care access and palliative care program development. Best practice models demonstrate promising approaches and outcomes related to education and training, policy and advocacy, and academic-practice partnerships. Conclusion: An estimated 28 million nurses account for 59% of the international healthcare workforce and deliver up to 90% of primary health services. It has been well-documented that nurses are often the first or only healthcare provider available in many parts of the world. Strategic investments in international and interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as policy changes and the safe expansion of high-quality nursing care, can optimize the efforts of the global nursing workforce to mitigate serious health-related suffering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e224-e236
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Palliative care
  • global health
  • global palliative care
  • nursing
  • palliative nursing
  • serious health-related suffering
  • universal health coverage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Optimizing the Global Nursing Workforce to Ensure Universal Palliative Care Access and Alleviate Serious Health-Related Suffering Worldwide'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this