Nurses’ care practices at the end of life in intensive care units in Bahrain

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Background:The process of dying in intensive care units is complex as the technological environment shapes clinical decisions. Decisions at the end of life require the involvement of patient, families and healthcare professionals. The degree of involvement can vary depending on the professional and social culture of the unit. Nurses have an important role to play in caring for dying patients and their families; however, their knowledge is not always sought.Objectives:This study explored nurses’ care practices at the end of life, with the objective of describing and identifying end of life care practices that nurses contribute to, with an emphasis on culture, religious experiences and professional identity.Research Design and context:Grounded theory was used. In all, 10 nurses from intensive care unit in two large hospitals in Bahrain were participated.Ethical Considerations:Approval to carry out the research was given by the Research Ethics Committee of the host institution, and the two hospitals.Findings:A core category, Death Avoidance Talk, was emerged. This was supported by two major categories: (1) order-oriented care and (2) signalling death and care shifting.Discussion:Death talk was avoided by the nurses, doctors and family members. When a decision was made by the medical team that a patient was not to be resuscitated, the nurses took this as a sign that death was imminent. This led to a process of signalling death to family and of shifting care to family members.Conclusion:Despite the avoidance of death talk and nurses’ lack of professional autonomy, they created awareness that death was imminent to family members and ensured that end of life care was given in a culturally sensitive manner and aligned to Islamic values.

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