Engaging Personhood at End of Life: A Qualitative Study of Nurses’ Practice in Acute Care

Title: Engaging Personhood at End of Life: A Qualitative Study of Nurses’ Practice in Acute Care
Authors: Robinson, Lisa
Date: 2018-12-18
Abstract: The acute care setting is designed to provide short-term care for people who require treatment for a severe episode of acute illness and exacerbations of chronic conditions. Yet, more than half of Canadians die in acute hospitals every year. Evidence shows that nurses in acute care units feel limited in their ability to provide quality end-of-life care due to a variety of factors. As a result, the needs of patients that are dying are often overlooked, which can cause them to experience a loss of identity and control, as well as suffering at the end-of-life; a unique time in one’s life trajectory marked by significant changes in personhood. Personhood is the philosophical underpinning of the frequently used concept ‘person-centered care’ – one of the fundamental ideologies of nursing and a central concept in palliative care. An interpretive description design was used to explore the following research question: What do nurses’ stories reveal about the ways in which they engage, or fail to engage, with personhood in end-of-life care in acute care units? To appreciate the culture in which participant stories were situated, a literature review of acute care culture, end-of-life care in acute care units, and the concept of personhood was conducted. Eight nurses from an acute medical-surgical ward of a tertiary care hospital in Eastern Ontario were interviewed for this study. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data, which elucidated tensions between participants’ ability to enact ethical end-of- life care reflective of their values and the contextual constraints of working in a culture of biomedicine. Exploring these tensions provided insight on the nuances and complexities of navigating ethical end-of-life care in an acute care setting as well as implications for nursing practice, education, and research with particular attention to promoting moral communities in acute care that value personhood and biomedicine equally.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/38584
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -