Exploration of Iranian intensive care nurses' experience of end-of-life care: a qualitative study

Nurs Crit Care. 2012 Nov-Dec;17(6):309-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-5153.2012.00523.x. Epub 2012 Aug 2.


Background: A challenge for intensive care nurses is providing the best possible care to patients in an end-of-life stage. The fact that some patients will die despite the efforts of the health care team can affect the psychological state of the nurses and families. Lack of attention to such an issue can bring about unpleasant consequences for both patients and nurses.

Aim: Using a qualitative design, the aim is this article explores the experiences of intensive care nurses providing care for end-of-life patients.

Methods: The data were collected through in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of 10 nurses working at intensive care units (ICUs). Interviews were transcribed and finally analysed through the conventional content analysis.

Findings: Two themes emerged out of the experience of providing care to the end-of-life patients. The findings revealed that for Iranian intensive care nurses providing care to such patients was accompanied by emotional burden and values and beliefs.

Conclusion: The results of the study have increased the current knowledge over the experience of providing care to end-of-life patients at ICUs. It also has revealed the need for providing the nurses with psychological support, accommodating the possibility for offering a complete care, attending to and managing the conditions of the patient and their families and engaging nurses in decision making about end-of-life patients.

Relevance to practice: Managers ought to provide specialized units for providing care to end-of-life patients. Nurses working on these units will require emotional support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Critical Care / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Terminal Care / psychology*