Communication During Palliative Care and End of Life: Perceptions of Experienced Pediatric Oncology Nurses

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Abstract

Background:

Communication between patients, families, and healthcare providers is a central component of end-of-life care. Nurse communication during palliative care (PC) and end of life (EOL) is a phenomenon with limited research. It is unclear how the level of nursing experience influences the perspectives of nurses communicating during EOL.

Objective:

The aim of this study is to describe the commonalities of experienced nurses’ perceptions of communicating during PC and EOL and perceptions of barriers and facilitators to effective communication.

Methods:

This study was part of a larger multisite study that used a qualitative, empirical phenomenology design and represents focus group data gathered from pediatric oncology nurses with more than 5 years of experience or who were advanced practice nurses not involved in the direct evaluation of other nurses.

Results:

Five core themes with corresponding themes and subthemes were identified. The core themes included (a) Evolution of PC/EOL, (b) Skill of Knowing, (c) Expanded Essence of Caring, (d) Experienced Nurse as Committed Advocate, and (e) Valuing Individual Response to Grief.

Conclusions:

Findings reflect how the concept of experience transcended the 5 core themes and captured how experience provided nurses the know-how to fulfill the roles of communication, caring, and advocacy for children and families.

Implications for Practice:

Enhancing nurse communication skills during EOL requires opportunities to gain experience coupled with clinical strategies, such as standardized curricula, simulation, competency-based orientation programs, mentorship, and peer support.

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