Nurses' use of palliative care practices in the acute care setting

E H Bradley, E Cherlin, R McCorkle, T R Fried, S V Kasl, D V Cicchetti, R Johnson-Hurzeler, S M Horwitz
Journal of Professional Nursing: Official Journal of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing 2001, 17 (1): 14-22
This study examines the reported use of palliative care practices by nurses caring for terminally ill patients in the acute care setting. Randomly selected nurses (n = 180) from six randomly selected hospitals in Connecticut completed a self-administered questionnaire. Factors associated with use of palliative care practices were examined by using bivariate and multivariate analyses. Most nurses surveyed (88.5%) reported using palliative care practices when caring for their terminally ill patients. Factors associated with greater use included greater knowledge about hospice, having practiced nursing for less than 10 years, and having had hospice training in the past 5 years. A substantial proportion of nurses reported that they never discuss hospice (51.7 per cent of nurses) and prognosis (26.6 per cent of nurses) with their terminally ill patients. Educational preparation (bachelor's degree versus less education) was not associated with greater use of palliative care practices. Palliative care practices are commonly used by nurses in the acute care setting. However, many report having limited training and substantial gaps in knowledge about hospice among this group of nurses, suggesting greater attention to palliative care and hospice may be warranted in nursing educational programs.

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