Purpose: Regardless of the location, rural nurses care for patients and their families across the trajectory of an illness and into death in long term care facilities. The purpose of this study was to examine rural nurses' knowledge of palliative care for end of life patients in long term care facilities.
Method: A quantitative descriptive correlational design was utilized with a convenience sample of nurses (registered nurses and licensed practical nurses) in three rural long term care facilities in south-central Kentucky. Demographical data was utilized to describe the study subjects, and the Palliative Care Knowledge Test was utilized to measure the rural nurses' knowledge of palliative care. Descriptive statistics and Cross-tabs with a Chi-square test for independence were used for analysis.
Findings: The rural nurses lacked knowledge of palliative care on the Palliative Care Knowledge Test. Although the study sample scored below 50%, registered nurses were more knowledgeable than licensed practical nurses on many of the items on the Palliative Care Knowledge Test. This study supports that the total years practiced in long term care does not affect the knowledge on the Palliative Care Knowledge Test. Registered nurses were more knowledgeable than licensed practical nurses on some items of the Palliative Care Knowledge Test.
Conclusion: Nurses cannot practice what they do not know. Nurses who lack knowledge about the philosophy and principles of palliative care may lower the quality of end of life care for patients in long term care facilities. An evaluation of the knowledge level of nurses for palliative care is an important first step in instituting an educational intervention.
Keywords: rural nurses, palliative care knowledge, and Palliative Care Knowledge Test
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