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Beyond the Supreme Court Decision: Nursing Perspectives on End-of-Life Care

Betty Ferrell
Rose Virani
Marcia Grant
Patrick Coyne
Gwen Uman
ONF 2000, 27(3), 445-455 DOI: 10.1188/00.ONF.445-455

Purpose/Objectives: To describe nurses' views of care of the terminally ill.

Design: Descriptive cross-sectional survey.

Sample: 300 nurses who completed a survey published in Nursing98 and Nursing Management and 2,033 nurses randomly selected from the Oncology Nursing Society (N = 2,333).

Methods: Mailed end-of-life (EOL) care survey.

Main Research Variables: Dilemmas, barriers, and effectiveness of EOL care and education and attitudes regarding assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Findings: EOL care dilemmas are common in nursing practice, and many barriers exist to providing quality EOL care. Issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide are particularly significant to nurses who struggle to provide pain and symptom relief amid a system characterized by deficiencies in EOL care.

Conclusions: Improved care is contingent on adequate education of nurses as the primary caregivers of patients and families who are facing the end of life. Study findings provide direction for improved care of the terminally ill.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Oncology nurses are centrally involved in care of the terminally ill. Major reform is needed to provide quality EOL care.

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