Purpose: Nurse practitioners (NPs) have provided care to clients in primary care settings for more than 40 years. Although NP practice standards have identified grief as a health concern that needs to be addressed, little is known about the practice of NPs with this population. The purpose of this study was to describe the clinical practice of NPs in primary care with clients who were grieving the death of a significant person.
Data sources: This descriptive exploratory qualitative study explored NPs' assessment, plan of care, and evaluation of healthcare outcomes for their clients who were grieving. Semi-structured audiotaped interviews with nine NPs providing primary care to clients were completed. The data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
Conclusions: The NPs' descriptions of their clinical practice yielded important information about their assessment, intervention, and evaluation of grieving clients. Descriptions of assessments by NPs provided important data that were categorized as physical complaints, overall functioning, and emotional well-being or coping. Descriptions of interventions included validation of clients' grief, prescriptions, and teaching or referral. Descriptions of outcomes included relief of physical complaints and stabilized chronic illness, improvements in overall functioning, and improvements in clients' emotional well-being and coping.
Implications for practice: For NPs to be able to provide effective care to clients grieving the death of a loved one, they need a better understanding of theoretical models and current research related to grief. Further studies are needed to provide insight into the practice of NPs with this population.