What do nurses want to learn from death education? A survey of their needs

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2011 Nov;38(6):E402-8. doi: 10.1188/11.ONF.E402-E408.


Purpose/objectives: To identify what nurses want to know most about death education and to obtain baseline data to improve nurses' training and education.

Design: A cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Seven hospitals in Shanghai, China.

Sample: 617 RNs.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey using a self-report questionnaire was administered to a purposive sample of RNs. The data were analyzed with SASĀ® statistical software, version 9.1.3.

Main research variables: Nurses' content needs in death education and the characteristics associated with those needs.

Findings: Eight dimensions of needs were extracted by factor analysis from the results. The dimension of managing issues associated with death and dying had the highest score (X = 4.13), whereas issues associated with funeral planning had the lowest score (X = 3.51). The multiple linear regression analysis showed that three factors may have influenced the nurses' needs in death education: educational background, previous training about death education, and hospital size.

Conclusions: Nurses had high levels of need in the content of death education, particularly regarding knowledge and skills in coping with death and dying patients (e.g., caring for patients and their families physically and psychologically).

Implications for nursing: Educators and administrators should strive to provide high-quality training for nurses and consider the roles of culture, religion, and sociodemographic characteristics when designing death education programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Death*
  • China
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Funeral Rites
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Nursing Education Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / education*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Terminal Care / psychology