Background A broad overview of the existing literature reveals that nurses often feel inadequately trained or prepared in terms of the communication skills needed to deal with the difficult situations. The purpose of the current study was to explore the experience of communication in the care of children with palliative care needs, from the perspective of physicians, nurses, and mothers in Jordan.
Methods This study employed a collective qualitative case study approach. It was conducted in three paediatric units in a Jordanian hospital. Each case comprised a child aged 1–12 years, their most involved family carer (mothers), physician(s) and nurse(s). Two data collection methods were employed: participant observation and semi-structured interviews with three categories of participants: mothers, physicians, and the nurses who cared for the children that participated in this study.
Results The study was based on 15 cases, with a total of 197 observational hours and 60 interviews (conducted with 15 mothers, 12 physicians and 21 nurses). The findings indicate that the healthcare professionals struggled to communicate with families of children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. For instance, many found it difficult to communicate with parents when delivering an initial diagnosis, when the child’s health deteriorated, or if the child’s death was imminent. Doctors also reported feeling blamed for the ineffectiveness of treatment plans and cited this as their primary difficulty. Nurses also revealed that work pressure often limited their ability to provide optimum patient care and to communicate effectively with patients and their families. Other nurses reported difficulty in offering emotional support.
Conclusions The continuous education and specialised training for professionals, which provides staff with specialised communication skills and emotional support for children and parents is imperative in improving the clinical practice in the healthcare settings with limited access to specialist palliative care.
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