Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Acting with dedication and expertise: Relatives’ experience of nurses’ provision of care in a palliative unit

Journal title
Palliative & supportive care
Publication year
Grothe, A.; Biong, S.; Grov, E. K.

OBJECTIVES: Admission of a cancer patient to a palliative unit when near the final stage of their disease trajectory undoubtedly impacts their relatives. The aim of our study was to illuminate and interpret relatives’ lived experiences of health personnel’s provision of care in a palliative ward. METHODS: A phenomenological/hermeneutic approach was employed that was inspired by the philosophical tradition of Heidegger and Ricoeur and further developed by Lindseth and Nordberg. The perspectives of the narrator and the text were interpreted by highlighting relatives’ views on a situation in which they have to face existential challenges. The analysis was undertaken in three steps: naive reading, structural analysis, and comprehensive understanding, including the authors’ professional experiences and theoretical background. RESULTS: Six subthemes appeared: the dying person, the bubble, the sight, the cover, the provision for children’s needs, and the availability of immediate help. These components were further constructed into three themes: the meaning of relating, the meaning of action, and the meaning of resources. Our comprehensive understanding of the results suggests that the most important theme is "acting with dedication and expertise." SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: The following aspects are crucial for relatives of cancer patients hospitalized in a palliative ward: time and existence, family dynamics, and care adjusted to the situation. Our study results led to reflections on the impact of how nurses behave when providing care to patients during the palliative phase, and how they interact with relatives in this situation. We found that cancer patients in a palliative unit most appreciate nurses who act with dedication and expertise.

Research abstracts