Attitudes and experiences of nurses toward death and caring for dying patients in Turkey

Banu Cevik, Sultan Kav
Cancer Nursing 2013, 36 (6): E58-65

BACKGROUND: Caring of the dying patients and facing the death can be a stressful and difficult experience for nurses. Besides personal and professional experiences, nurses' own attitudes toward death may affect the care given to dying individuals.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine Turkish nurses' attitudes toward and experiences with death and caring for dying patients.

METHODS: A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted at 2 university hospitals and 1 state hospital located in Ankara, Turkey. Data were collected via sociodemographics form, the Death Attitude Profile-Revised, and Frommelt's Attitude Toward Caring for Dying Patients.

RESULTS: The attitudes of Turkish nurses toward death and caring for dying patients are less positive than the reported attitudes of nurses in other studies. Significant relationships were found among level of education, willingness to care for dying patients, and scores on Frommelt's Attitude Toward Caring for Dying Patients and on Death Attitude Profile-Revised subscales (P < .05). Although the majority of nurses (85%) stated that they had received education on end of life, most of them (82%) were not comfortable talking about death.

CONCLUSIONS: A lack of education and experience may contribute to the negative attitudes. Providing a reflective narrative environment in which nurses can express their personal feelings about death and dying could be a potentially effective approach.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: This study highlights the need for further educational research and development of better educational programs to help nurses to explore and understand their attitudes toward death, overcome fears, increase communication skills, and enhance coping strategies.

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