Nursing Roles and Strategies in End-of-Life Decision Making in Acute Care: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Nurs Res Pract. 2011;2011:527834. doi: 10.1155/2011/527834. Epub 2011 Oct 2.


The objective of this paper is to analyze the literature concerning nurses' roles and strategies in EOL decision making in acute care environments, synthesize the findings, and identify implications for future research. We conducted searches in CINAHL and PubMed, using a broad range of terms. The 44 articles retained for review had quantitative and qualitative designs and represented ten countries. These articles were entered into a matrix to facilitate examining patterns, themes, and relationships across studies. Three nursing roles emerged from the synthesis of the literature: information broker, supporter, and advocate, each with a set of strategies nurses use to enact the roles. Empirical evidence linking these nursing roles and strategies to patients and family members outcomes is lacking. Understanding how these strategies and activities are effective in helping patients and families make EOL decisions is an area for future research.