Although attention to healthcare ethics in rural areas has increased, specific focus on rural palliative care is still largely under-studied and under-theorized. The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the values informing good palliative care from rural individuals' perspectives.
We conducted a qualitative ethnographic study in four rural communities in Western Canada. Each community had a population of 10, 000 or less and was located at least a three hour travelling distance by car from a specialist palliative care treatment centre. Data were collected over a 2-year period and included 95 interviews, 51 days of field work and 74 hours of direct participant observation where the researchers accompanied rural healthcare providers. Data were analyzed inductively to identify the most prevalent thematic values, and then coded using NVivo.
This study illuminated the core values of knowing and being known, being present and available, and community and mutuality that provide the foundation for ethically good rural palliative care. These values were congruent across the study communities and across the stakeholders involved in rural palliative care. Although these were highly prized values, each came with a corresponding ethical tension. Being known often resulted in a loss of privacy. Being available and present created a high degree of expectation and potential caregiver strain. The values of community and mutuality created entitlement issues, presenting daunting challenges for coordinated change.
The values identified in this study offer the opportunity to better understand common ethical tensions that arise in rural healthcare and key differences between rural and urban palliative care. In particular, these values shed light on problematic health system and health policy changes. When initiatives violate deeply held values and hard won rural capacity to address the needs of their dying members is undermined, there are long lasting negative consequences. The social fabric of rural life is frayed. These findings offer one way to re-conceptualize healthcare decision making through consideration of critical values to support ethically good palliative care in rural settings.
Commuting for advanced cancer care is an important option for rural patients who require palliative treatment.The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to investigate the experiences of rural family palliative caregivers (FPCs) who supported advanced cancer patients receiving palliative treatment at a regional cancer centre. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 FPCs (27-73 years of age) who commuted with family members. Rural life, the multiple responsibilities borne by FPCs, the availability of support networks, and the culture of the regional cancer centre were all relevant contextual factors.The dedication of FPCs to making the commuting experience as positive as possible for the patient was the central theme. Subthemes were planning ahead to prepare for all possibilities, experiences on the road, the toll of commuting on FPCs, and making the best of it. The authors offer recommendations for self-care, nursing practice, and future research.
The chaplain's role in health care services has changed profoundly within the contexts of managerial and fiscal constraints, and increasingly pluralistic and secularized societies. Drawing from a larger study that examined religious and spiritual plurality in health care, we present findings regarding the contributions of chaplains or spiritual care providers (SCPs) as they are referred to more recently, in Canadian institutional health care contexts. Qualitative analyses of interviews with 14 employed SCPs and 7 volunteers provided insights about legitimizing and crafting the role of SPCs, becoming part of the health care team, and brokering diversity. Implications are discussed in relation to role clarification and policy development for truly hospitable health care.
Incorporating patients' spiritual beliefs into health care decision making is essential for ethically good care. Gadow's three-level ethical framework of ethical immediacy, ethical universalism, and relational narrative is presented as a tool for enhancing nurses' ability to explore and deepen understandings of patients' spiritual beliefs, given that these and their experiences are often expressed in a language that seems foreign to nurses. The demographic and cultural shifts that lead to the necessity to understand patients who use principles and metaphors that, while commonly understood within their spiritual tradition, may seem incomprehensible to outsiders, are here set in the Canadian context. A case study on palliative sedation is used to illustrate how the ethical framework can help to reveal the spiritual certainties, principles and narratives patients bring to their health care experiences.
Growing concern exists among health professionals over the dilemma of providing necessary health care for Canada's aging population. Hospice palliative services are an essential need in both urban and rural settings. Rural communities, in particular, are vulnerable to receiving inadequate services due to their geographic isolation.
To better understand experiences and issues related to rural palliative care.
Focus groups were held for health professionals, family members and volunteers in 3 rural British Columbia communities. A coding schema was developed and the data were then thematically analyzed using a constant comparison technique.
Three themes in rural palliative care were established: nature of palliative health care services, nature of rural relationships, and competencies required for rural palliative care. Findings indicated that the diversity in rural communities requires tailored approaches to palliative care that consider the geographic, cultural and health aspects of residents in order to optimize care.
Tailored approaches to palliative care developed in conjunction with rural communities are needed in order to optimize care.
Workforce shortages, fiscal restraint, complex healthcare organizations, increasing patient acuity, the explosion of knowledge and technology and the ever expanding role of nurses in healthcare have reinforced the importance of new graduates arriving in the work setting with the ability to move seamlessly into practice. This idea of moving seamlessly into practice is often referred to as practice readiness. Differing perspectives exist between nurses in the practice and education sector about the practice readiness of new graduates. The aim of this study was to understand the perspectives of nurses about new graduate nurse practice readiness and the underlying context shaping these perspectives. Focus groups involving 150 nurses with varying years of experience in the practice, education and regulatory sector were conducted. The findings revealed that participants' expectations and understandings of new graduate practice readiness were influenced by the historical and social context within which nursing education and professional practice is grounded. These differences centered around three main areas: the educational preparation of nurses (diploma or degree), the preparation of the technical versus the professional nurse, and the perceived responsibilities and accountabilities of the education and practice sector for the educational preparation of nurses. To shift the discourse around practice readiness, nurses from all sectors must focus on unique, innovative and cooperative solutions to ensure the seamless transition of all nursing graduates in the 21st century healthcare system.
The aim of this research project was to gain an understanding of the experiences of rural cancer patients who commute to an urban cancer center for palliative care.
The study utilized a mixed method design. Fifteen individuals with a palliative designation participated in semi-structured interviews and filled out the Problems and Needs in Palliative Care Questionnaire.
Qualitative findings included three major themes: cultures of rural life and care, strategies for commuting, and the effects of commuting. Participants valued their rural lifestyles and gained significant support from their communities. Strategies included preparing for the trip with particular attention to pain management, making the most of time, and maintaining significant relationships. Establishing a routine helped to offset the anxiety of commuting. Commuting was costly but the quality of life and supportive relationships obtained through treatment were significant benefits. Questionnaire data suggested that participants were experiencing a number of problems but few indicated they desired more professional attention to those problems.
Rural lifestyles are often an important part of overall well-being and commuting for care is both costly and complex. Health care providers should assist individuals to weigh the relative contributions of staying in their rural locale versus commuting for care to their overall quality of life. Palliative-care individuals in this study indicated a number of ongoing problems but were not inclined to seek further assistance from health care providers in addressing those problems. Clinicians should actively inquire about problems and further research is needed to understand why patients are reluctant to seek help.
Dialogue continues on the "readiness" of new graduates for practice despite significant advancements in the foundational educational preparation for nurses. In this paper, the findings from an exploratory study about the meaning of new graduate "readiness" for practice are reported. Data was collected during focus group interviews with one-hundred and fifty nurses and new graduates. Themes were generated using content analysis. Our findings point to agreement about the meaning of new graduate nurses' readiness for practice as having a generalist foundation and some job specific capabilities, providing safe client care, keeping up with the current realities of nursing practice, being well equipped with the tools needed to adapt to the future needs of clients, and possessing a balance of doing, knowing, and thinking. The findings from this exploratory study have implications for policies and programs targeted towards new graduate nurses entering practice.
Erratum In: Int J Nurs Educ Scholarsh. 2010;7(1). doi: 10.2202/1548-923X.1827
Secondary analysis of data from 2 studies examining palliative care in rural areas was conducted with the aim to better understand how a nursing palliative approach influences quality outcomes at end-of-life. Nurses' ways of being that brought connection and comfort at end-of-life included paying attention to time, privacy, and family support. The rural context with its geography, relationships, and unique resources influenced nurses' abilities to enact a palliative approach. Findings demonstrate that urban-centric models of palliative care do not fit well in rural nursing practice and highlight the importance of understanding the rural context.