Background: Emergency nurses (ENs) often care for patients nearing the end of their lives or with life-limiting illnesses. However, ENs are hesitant to initiate palliative or end-of-life (PEOL) discussions because of a lack of comfort with these topics. Many ENs have no formal PEOL communication training which contributes to the lack of comfort with PEOL discussions in the emergency department (ED). Thus, the purpose of this quality improvement project was to determine how PEOL communication training affected rural ENs perceived comfort level during PEOL conversations.
Sample/Setting: A convenience sample of 14 registered nurses working in a rural Northern Plains ED.
Methods: A quality improvement project was implemented where nurses received online education using the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium Critical Care Communication module. This was followed by communication scenario review and group discussion. Changes in nurse comfort with PEOL communication were evaluated using a pre and post survey and reflective practice in the group discussion.
Findings: This quality improvement project demonstrated a statistically significant increased level of comfort (N = 14, p = 0.006) when communicating with PEOL patients and their families in the ED. Qualitatively, the ED nurses expressed fears and challenges specific to PEOL communication while also identifying new evidence-based strategies they can use during PEOL conversations.
Conclusion: Communication is vital when caring for PEOL patients in the ED. Formal PEOL communication training is effective for improving PEOL communication skills among ENs. Increasing nurse comfort when communicating with PEOL patients has the potential to improve quality of care at end-of-life.
Keywords: emergency nurses, communication, palliative, end-of-life
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share (for non-commerical purposes) the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).