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Hopeful thinking and level of comfort regarding providing pediatric palliative care: a survey of hospital nurses

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Feudtner, C.; Santucci, G.; Feinstein, J. A.; Snyder, C. R.; Rourke, M. T.; Kang, T. I.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this work was to test the hypothesis that individual nurses’ level of hope is associated with greater self-reported comfort and competence in providing palliative care. METHODS: We conducted a Web-based cross-sectional survey at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a large referral hospital, during the spring of 2005 with all of the employed nurses. The response rate was 44% (410 of 932 eligible nurses). The questions were adapted from published studies or written for this study regarding nurses’ knowledge, attitudes, practices, and experiences regarding various aspects of palliative care. We used the Adult Dispositional Hope Scale. RESULTS: Respondents, asked to rate their degree of agreement (+2, strongly agree to -2, strongly disagree) with the statement that they were "comfortable working with dying children and their families," reported a mean score of 0.5. Regarding whether they "find it very difficult to talk about death and dying with children and families," the mean score was -0.1. Nurses specifically reported feeling most competent regarding pain management and least competent regarding talking with children and families about dying. After multivariable adjustment, greater number of years in nursing practice, more hours of palliative care education, and higher scores on the Hope Scale, each were significantly associated with higher levels of comfort working with dying children and the families, lower levels of difficulty talking about death and dying, and higher levels of palliative care competency. CONCLUSIONS: Nurses’ level of hope is associated with their self-reported comfort and competence regarding palliative care.

Research abstracts