JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY

Nurses' attitudes toward death and caring for dying patients

L A Rooda, R Clements, M L Jordan
Oncology Nursing Forum 1999, 26 (10): 1683-7
10573685

PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To examine possible relationships among the demographic variables of nurses and their attitudes toward death and caring for dying patients.

DESIGN: Descriptive.

SETTING: A private hospital and Visiting Nurses Association office in an ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the Midwest.

SAMPLE: 403 nurses, predominantly female (90%) and Caucasian (70%), with a mean age of 41.8 years.

METHODS: Participants completed the Frommelt Attitude Toward Care of the Dying Scale, the Death Attitude Profile-Revised (DAP-R), and a demographic questionnaire.

MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES: Attitudes toward death and caring for dying people.

FINDINGS: DAP-R scores were related to sex, religious affiliation, and current contact with terminally ill patients. Frommelt scale scores (e.g., showing acceptance of death) were positively related to current contact with dying patients, negatively correlated with two DAP-R subscales (Fear of Death and Death Avoidance), and positively correlated with two other DAP-R subscales (Approach Acceptance and Neutral Acceptance).

CONCLUSIONS: Nurses' attitudes toward death and their current contact with terminally ill patients were predictive of their attitudes toward caring for terminally ill patients.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Professionals who are responsible for designing educational programs focused on nurses' attitudes toward caring for terminally ill patients may want to include an assessment of death attitudes and interventions aimed at decreasing negative attitudes and increasing positive attitudes toward death in such programs.

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