Norwegian nurses' thoughts and feelings regarding the ethics of palliative sedation

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2008 Nov;14(11):532-8. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2008.14.11.31757.


The purpose of this descriptive study was to explore whether or not nurses viewed deep palliative sedation as an ethical problem; and, if so, why they felt it posed a problem for them. An exploratory descriptive design with quantitative and qualitative sections was used. A questionnaire, consisting of open- and closed-ended questions, was answered by a sample of 73 nurses employed in three settings in Norway. The results were analyzed using descriptive statistics and content analysis. The findings indicated that 88% of the respondents had provided care for patients with great suffering; 78% had provided care for patients who received palliative sedation; and 63% felt that deep palliative sedation posed ethical problems. The respondents felt it was ethically difficult when patients were not involved in the decision, when families had continued needs to communicate with their loved ones, and when nurses felt uncertain about the relief of symptoms due to patients' inability to communicate.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication Barriers
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Conscious Sedation / adverse effects
  • Conscious Sedation / ethics*
  • Conscious Sedation / nursing
  • Decision Making / ethics
  • Emotions / ethics
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norway
  • Nurse's Role / psychology
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff* / ethics
  • Nursing Staff* / psychology
  • Palliative Care / ethics*
  • Palliative Care / methods
  • Patient Participation / methods
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking / ethics
  • Uncertainty