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Experiences of oncology nurses in end-of-life care: a phenomenological study

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Martins, Patricia J.
Wurzbach, Mary Ellen
Apr 10, 2009
Cancer nursing; Nurses, attitudes; Terminal care
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences of oncology nurses (ONs) in end-of-life (EOl) care. Oncology nurses often have an intimate role in assisting patients psychologically, physically and emotionally at the EOL. As a result, caring for dying patients affects ONs professionally as well as personally, and ultimately becomes a fundamental part of who they are as human beings. There is a lack of nursing research regarding the experiences of ONs in EOl care. Understanding the experiences and perspectives of ONs who care for patients at the EOl is important for developing strategies to support them in delivering quality care, as well as preserving their individual health and well being. Parse's (1998) theory of human becoming was the theoretical framework guiding the study. The sample was a purposive convenience sample of nurses currently practicing in either an inpatient or outpatient oncology setting. A demographic questionnaire was utilized to aid in data collection, and semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted using a researcher-developed interview guide. Data were analyzed utilizing Giorgi's (1985) approach to phenomenological data analysis. The three themes that emerged during data analysis include: (a) emotional work, (b) knowing and unknowing, and (c) care for the caregiver, which supported Parse's (1998) practice methodology of illuminating meaning, synchronizing rhythm, and mobilizing transcendence The data discussed reveal what caring for patients at the EOl means to ONs and how it impacts them personally. Further research is recommended with larger samples and a larger geographical area to understand this subject in greater depth.
A Clinical Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Nursing --University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 2008
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