Emergency and palliative care nurses' levels of anxiety about death and coping with death: a questionnaire survey

Louise Audrey Peters, Robyn Patricia Cant, Sheila Payne, Margaret Mary O'Connor, Fiona Margaret McDermott, Kerry Lee Hood, Julia Nicole Morphet, Kaori Shimoinaba

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Caring for dying patients and their families presents many challenges, and may be negatively affected by nurses Fear of Death. This study investigates attitudes of emergency and palliative care nurses towards death and dying. Methods: A mixed methods design including questionnaire and interview, was utilised. This paper reports questionnaire results from the Death Attitude Profile-Revised Scale and coping skills. Results: Twenty-eight emergency nurses and 28 palliative care nurses from two health services participated. Nurses held low to moderate Fear of Death (44 ), Death Avoidance (34 ), Escape Acceptance (47 ) and Approach Acceptance (59 ). Emergency nurses reported higher death avoidance and, significantly lower coping skills than palliative care nurses. Both reported high acceptance of the reality of death (Neutral Acceptance 82 ), and indicated they coped better with a patient who was dying than with, the patient s family. Conclusions: Nurses generally held positive attitudes towards death and dying. Participants could cope with caring for dying patients, but were significantly less comfortable coping with patients family members. Nurses should be aware of the impact their attitude towards death may have on providing supportive nursing care for the dying.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152 - 159
Number of pages8
JournalAustralasian Emergency Nursing Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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