A study of the lived experiences of registered nurses who have provided end-of-life care within an intensive care unit

Natalie Holms, Stuart Milligan, Angela Kydd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: End-of-life care (EOLC) in the intensive care unit (ICU) has received little attention in the literature in comparison to the considerable amount of existing literature available on EOLC in other areas of nursing. The ethos of the ICU is to preserve life, but as many patients die in this environment, EOLC should be an integral part of the ICU nurse's role. This qualitative study explored the experiences of ICU nurses who had provided EOLC to patients and their families.

METHOD: Participants were purposively recruited within one local ICU (n=5). A semi-structured interview format was used to guide in-depth interviews.

FINDINGS: The themes identified from the interview analysis were; use of integrated care systems, communication, the environment, education and training, staff distress.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that ICU nurses do not feel adequately prepared to give proficient EOLC. Those who felt more confident in EOLC had learned what to do over time. Appropriate training, support and improved communication between staff, patients and families is necessary for good EOLC in ICUs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-56
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Palliative Nursing
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014



  • Great Britain
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Terminal Care

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