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Assessing Nurses' Attitudes Toward Death and Caring for Dying Patients in a Comprehensive Cancer Center

Michelle Lange
Bridgette Thom
Nancy E. Kline
ONF 2008, 35(6), 955-959 DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.955-959

Purpose/Objectives: To assess how nurses employed in a comprehensive cancer center feel about death and caring for dying patients and examine any relationships between their attitudes and demographic factors.

Design: Descriptive quantitative.

Setting: A 432-bed comprehensive cancer center in New York, NY.

Sample: A convenience sample of 355 inpatient and outpatient oncology nurses.

Methods: Voluntary and anonymous completion of the Frommelt Attitude Toward Care of the Dying (FATCOD), the Death Attitude Profile-Revised (DAP-R), and a demographic questionnaire.

Main Research Variables: Years of total nursing experience, years employed at the cancer center, previous experience with caring for dying patients, age, gender, and attitudes toward death and caring for dying patients.

Findings: Statistically significant relationships were noted among age, nursing experience, previous experience with caring for terminally ill patients, and scores on the FATCOD and DAP-R. Nursing experience and age were the variables most likely to predict nurses' attitudes toward death and caring for dying patients.

Conclusions: RNs with more work experience tended to have more positive attitudes toward death and caring for dying patients.

Implications for Nursing: Based on the data collected in the study, less experienced oncology nurses will most likely benefit from increased education, training, and exposure to providing and coping effectively with end-of-life care.

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