Gratitude in Healthcare: A Metanarrative Review

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Research into gratitude as a significant sociological and psychological phenomenon has proliferated in the past two decades. However, there is little consensus on how it should be conceptualised or investigated empirically. We present a metanarrative review that focuses on gratitude in healthcare, with an emphasis on research exploring interpersonal experiences in the context of care provision. Six metanarratives from literatures across the humanities, sciences and medicine are identified, contextualised and discussed: gratitude as social capital; gifts; care ethics; benefits of gratitude; gratitude and staff wellbeing; and gratitude as an indicator of quality of care. Metanarrative review was a valuable framework for making sense of theoretical antecedents and findings in this developing area of research. We conclude that greater attention needs to be given to what constitutes ‘evidence’ in gratitude research, and call for qualitative studies to better understand and shape the role and implications of gratitude in healthcare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2303-2315
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number14
Early online date13 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • gratitude
  • health care
  • meta-narrative review
  • psychology
  • qualitative


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