Stressors Experienced by Nurses Providing End-of-Life Palliative Care in the Intensive Care Unit

Céline Gélinas, Lise Fillion, Marie-Anik Robitaille, Manon Truchon

Abstract


The purpose of this study was to describe stressors experienced by nurses in providing end-of-life palliative care (EoL/PC) in intensive care units (ICUs). A descriptive qualitative design was used. A total of 42 nurses from 5 ICUs in the province of Quebec, Canada, participated in 10 focus groups. Stressors were found to be clustered in 3 categories: organizational, professional, and emotional. The major organizational stressors were lack of a palliative care approach, interprofessional difficulty, lack of continuity in life-support and treatment plans, and conflicting demands. Professional stressors included lack of EoL/PC competencies and difficulty communicating with families and collaborating with the medical team. Emotional stressors were described as value conflicts, lack of emotional support, and dealing with patient and family suffering. The authors conclude that providing EoL/PC is stressful for ICU nurses and that education and support programs should be developed to ensure quality EoL/PC in the critical care environment.

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