End-of-life discussions: Who's doing the talking?

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Abstract

Purpose:

To determine, in a tertiary academic medical center, the reported frequency of end-of-life discussions among nurses and the influence of demographic factors on these discussions.

Methods:

Survey of nurses on frequency of end-of-life discussions in two urban academic medical centers. Chi-square tests were used to separately assess the relationship between age, gender, specialty, and experience with responses to the question, “Do you regularly talk with your patients about end-of-life wishes?”

Results:

Overall, more than one-third of respondents reported rarely or never discussing end-of-life wishes with their patients. Only specialty expertise (p < 0.001) was statistically significantly associated with discussing end-of-life issues with patients. Over half of nurses specializing in critical care responded that they have these discussion “always” or “most of the time.” However, for the specialties of surgery (59%) and anesthesiology (56%), the majority of respondents reported rarely or never having end-of-life discussions with patients.

Conclusions:

In a survey conducted in two tertiary care institutions, more than one-third of nurses from all disciplines responded that they never or almost never discuss end-of-life issues with their patients. Specialty influenced the likelihood of discussing end-of-life issues with patients.

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