Ward staff experiences of patient death in an acute medical setting

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To explore how ward staff, including nurses and healthcare support workers, experience patient death in an acute medical setting.


Thirteen staff, from two acute medical wards for patients with respiratory conditions, were interviewed about their experiences of patient death. A Heideggerian phenomenological approach was used to gather and analyse the data.


Three main themes were identified: responses, influences and support. These themes were further subdivided into preliminary themes that reflected the social psychology literature. Participants often experienced grief following the death of a patient and the effects on staff were not always recognised or acknowledged by managers.


This study contributes new knowledge about staff experiences of patient death in the acute setting. The findings could have implications for clinical practice and the provision of support for nursing staff, and could also inform future policies regarding end of life care in this setting.

Wilson J (2014) Ward staff experiences of patient death in an acute medical setting.

Nursing Standard. 28, 37, 37-45. Date of submission: June 3 2013; date of acceptance: January 10 2014.


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