Suitable support for anxious hospice patients: what do nurses 'know', 'do' and 'need'? An explanatory mixed method study.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To provide insight into what nurses know, do and need to provide support to anxious patients in hospice care (HC).

METHODS

A mixed method study consisted of an online survey and focus groups (FGs) about what nurses know, do, and need was conducted. 336 HC nurses were invited to participate. Descriptive statistics were computed using SPSS. The χ2 and t-tests were conducted to compare. The FGs were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.

RESULTS

The survey was completed by 265 nurses (79%), and five FGs (n=25) were conducted. Most nurses had >10 years working experience; mean age was 52. The majority (59%) felt that they were equipped with sufficient knowledge; however, lack of knowledge (31%) as well as lack of time (50%) were hampering factors. Identification of anxiety was difficult due to the variety of its expression. Tools for identifying were used by 37%. Interventions were generally chosen intuitively. A major responsibility was experienced in caring for patients with panic attacks during late night shifts, making immediate decisions necessary.

CONCLUSION

This study highlights the struggles of nurses caring for anxious patients in HC. Anxiety management is dependent on the competencies and preferences of the individual nurse. One-third of the nurses require additional training. According to HC nurses, the intervention set should include guidelines for applying assessment tools, effective communication strategies and decision models as well as prediction models in order to select tailored interventions. Future research should focus on patients' perspectives in order to understand crucial measures for anxiety management.

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