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Critical care nurses’ experiences of caring for a dying child: A qualitative evidence synthesis

Journal title
Journal of advanced nursing
Publication year
Grimston, M.; Butler, A. E.; Copnell, B.

AIM: To synthesize qualitative research examining the experience of critical care nurses caring for a dying child. BACKGROUND: Caring for a dying child remains one of the most difficult aspects of nursing, potentially leading to personal and professional distress. A thorough understanding of this experience for critical care nurses allows for improved delivery of care and support for the nurse. DESIGN: A qualitative evidence synthesis was undertaken, informed by Thomas and Harden’s thematic synthesis methodology. DATA SOURCES: Studies were retrieved from CINAHL Plus, Scopus, OVID Medline, and Embase, alongside hand-searching reference lists in February 2016. REVIEW METHODS: Two reviewers independently assessed each study using a multistep screening process and performed critical appraisal of each included study. Data were extracted onto a predeveloped tool and analysed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: There is a blurred line between the role of the nurse as a person or a professional while caring for the child and family throughout hospitalization and during and after the death. Each stage of care involves tasks and emotions that highlight the changing dominance of the nurse as either a person or professional. CONCLUSION: Personal, interpersonal, and contextual factors affect delivery of care and impact of the death of the child on the critical care nurse. Reviewing individual and institutional practices could improve provision of care, interprofessional collaboration, and support provided to staff involved.

Research abstracts