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‘Death rounds to support critical care nurses: a qualitative study’


Objective Providing end-of-life care has a significant psychological impact on critical care nurses. Little is known about whether critical care nurses find death rounds useful as a support system. This study aimed to describe critical care nurses’ perceptions of attending death rounds.

Methods This study was conducted using a qualitative descriptive design, using one-to-one audio-recorded interviews. The study was conducted at a 20-bed medical intensive care unit in a 1200-bed public tertiary hospital in Singapore. One-to-one interviews were conducted with 14 nurses using a semi-structured interview guide. Data was analysed using thematic analysis.

Results Critical care nurses valued attending death rounds. They found death rounds to be an outlet to express themselves and remember patients, to draw and give peer support, to build nursing and interprofessional cohesiveness and to learn to improve palliative care. The death rounds were optimal when they felt safe to share, when there was a good facilitator, when the hierarchy was flat and when the audience was interdisciplinary. The barriers to a successful death round were the rounds being too formal, timing and not knowing the patients.

Conclusion Death rounds are a viable way to support critical care nurses in providing end-of-life care.

  • education and training
  • psychological care

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