Iranian nurses' preparation for loss: finding a balance in end-of-life care

Ali Zargham Boroujeni, Rakhshandeh Mohammadi, Sayede Fatemeh Haghdoost Oskouie, Jonas Sandberg
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2009, 18 (16): 2329-36

AIM: To explore the nurse-patient interaction in terminally ill situations in acute care, focusing on the nurses' preparation for loss.

BACKGROUND: Caring for dying patients can be a distressing and sometimes even threatening experience for nurses. Despite the vast body of literature on nurse/patient interaction and the quality of end-of-life care, few studies focus specifically on nurses' experience.

DESIGN: A grounded theory approach was used to explore nurses' interaction with dying patients and their families and examine how nurses deal with situations in which the patient's death is inevitable.

METHOD: Eighteen nurses were interviewed up to three times each at three teaching hospitals in Isfahan, Iran, during autumn 2006. A shortlist of possible participants was obtained by means of theoretical sampling and those who had experienced the death of patients and were able to express their feelings verbally were selected.

RESULTS: The results clarified a core consideration: striking a balance between restorative and palliative care, information and hope, expectations and abilities and intimacy and distance.

CONCLUSION: Attaining a balance in caring for dying patients is a major challenge to nurses: it concerns not only their interactions with patients and their families, but also their perceptions of themselves and their actions in end-of-life care.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: In end-of-life care, it is important for nurses to be able to change the focus of their care when the patient's condition is diagnosed as irreversible. They also need to be well equipped to maintain a balance, thereby preparing themselves for the patient's forthcoming death.

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