Finnish nurses' views on end-of-life discussions and a comparison with physicians' views

Nurs Ethics. 2004 Mar;11(2):165-78. doi: 10.1191/0969733004ne681oa.


This study investigated Finnish nurses' experiences and views on end-of-life decision making and compared them with physicians' views. For this purpose, a questionnaire was sent to 800 nurses, of which 51% responded. Most of the nurses had a positive attitude towards and respect for living wills, more often than physicians. Most also believed that a will had an effect on decision making. Almost all of the nurses considered it their responsibility to talk to physicians about respecting living wills. Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders were often interpreted to imply partial or complete palliative (symptom-orientated) care, which may cause confusion. Half of the nurses reported that a DNR decision was discussed always or often with a patient who was able to communicate; physicians were more positive in this respect. Surprisingly, many nurses (44%) stated that active treatment continued too long. Two-thirds thought that their opinions were taken into account sufficiently, even though only half believed that, in general, they had some impact.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advance Care Planning* / organization & administration
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication*
  • Family / psychology
  • Finland
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Living Wills
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nurses / psychology
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Participation
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Resuscitation Orders
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care* / organization & administration
  • Terminal Care* / psychology