Nursing research indicates that serious illness and impending death influence the individual's self-image. Few studies define what self-image means. Thus it seems to be urgent to explore how nurses in palliative care perceive the concept of self-image, to get a deeper insight into the concept's applicability in palliative care.
To explore how nurses in palliative care perceive the concept of self-image.
Qualitative descriptive design.
In-depth interviews with 17 nurses in palliative care were analysed using phenomenography. The study gained ethical approval.
The concept of self-image was perceived as both a familiar and an unfamiliar concept. Four categories of description with a gradually increasing complexity were distinguished: Identity, Self-assessment, Social function and Self-knowledge. They represent the collective understanding of the concept and are illustrated in a 'self-image map'. The identity-category emerged as the most comprehensive one and includes the understanding of 'Who I am' in a multidimensional way.
The collective understanding of the concept of self-image include multi-dimensional aspects which not always were evident for the individual nurse. Thus, the concept of self-image needs to be more verbalised and reflected on if nurses are to be comfortable with it and adopt it in their caring context. The 'self-image map' can be used in this reflection to expand the understanding of the concept. If the multi-dimensional aspects of the concept self-image could be explored there are improved possibilities to make identity-promoting strategies visible and support person-centred care.
A palliative care approach aims to integrate psychosocial and existential as well as relationship aspects in the care and is an approach that can be used in residential care. Nurse assistants are the ones who are closest to the residents but have limited prerequisites for working in accordance with the palliative care approach. We aimed to investigate the effects on nurse assistants' experiences of care provision and the caring climate of an intervention applying a palliative care approach in residential care.
An intervention involving nurse assistants (n = 75) and their leaders (n = 9), in comparison with controls (n = 110), was evaluated using a questionnaire at three points in time.
In the intervention group, positive effects were seen concerning the nurse assistants' reports of the care provision in that they focused more on the residents' stories about their lives and on communicating with the residents about what gave meaning to their lives. Also, negative effects were seen when the nurse assistants rated that the residents' needs for medical and nursing care had not been met at the facility directly after the intervention. No effects were seen concerning the caring climate or the prerequisites of providing more person-centred care.
The intervention seemed to have encouraged the nurse assistants to focus on relationship aspects with the residents. So as not to jeopardise the NAs' well-being and to support NAs in keeping themselves involved in existential issues, their support most certainly needs to be continuous and ongoing. However, in spite of the leaders' involvement, the intervention was not sufficient for changing the organisational prerequisites for more person-centred care.
Caring for a terminally ill family member can be extremely stressful, and stress is known to have a negative influence on aspects of cognition. In contrast to the well-known physical and mental health risks associated with caregiving, little is known about its impact on cognitive functioning.
The primary objective of this study was to explore cognition among caregivers of palliative family members with a battery of neuropsychological tests. A secondary objective was to examine changes in cognition following caregiving by retesting a subset of participants at least 6 months after the death of their care recipient.
While caregiving, 27 participants completed an assessment battery measuring attention, learning, and memory, as well as intelligence, mood, and general health; 22 participants completed this battery again post-caregiving. We compared caregivers' cognitive performance to healthy normative samples.
Participants who were caring for palliative relatives exhibited significant impairments in attention, including difficulty monitoring their performance and regulating their attentional resources. In contrast, participants' episodic and working memory performance was not impaired while caregiving. A mixed pattern of improvement and worsening of cognitive functioning was evident among caregivers retested after their family member's death.
In addition to the well-documented physical and mental health risks associated with caregiving, this study adds to a small body of literature demonstrating impaired cognitive functioning among family members providing end-of-life care. Secondary findings of both improvement and deterioration of cognition post caregiving provide tentative support for the possibility of reversing certain cognitive deficits by reducing caregiver stress.
Cites: N Engl J Med. 2006 Feb 16;354(7):719-3016481639
To describe Swedish first-year undergraduate nursing students' attitudes toward care of dying patients. Possible influences such as age, earlier care experiences, care education, experiences of meeting dying patients and place of birth were investigated.
The Frommelt Attitude Toward Care of the Dying Scale (FATCOD) was used in six universities. Descriptive statistics and regression analysis were used.
Some 371 students (67.3%) reported overall positive attitude toward caring for dying patients (total mean FATCOD 119.5, SD 10.6) early in their first semester. Older students, students with both earlier care experience and earlier education, those with experience of meeting a dying person, and students born in Sweden reported the highest scores, a more positive attitude.
Age, earlier care experience and education, experiences of meeting a dying person and place of birth seems to affect students' attitudes toward care of the dying and need to be considered among nursing educators.
The aim of this study was to obtain an understanding of what it means to be a hospice volunteer in a country without a tradition of hospice or palliative volunteer care services. Ten volunteers from three different hospices in Sweden were interviewed. Their narratives were interpreted with a phenomenological hermeneutic method. Three themes were disclosed: motives for becoming involved in hospices, encountering the hospice and encountering the patient. The interpretations disclose a need for the volunteer to be affirmed as a caring person and received in fellowship at the hospice. Positive encounters with a hospice are closely related to personal growth. Volunteers feel rejected if their need for meaning and for belonging to the hospice is not satisfied. This shows that hospices need to set goals in terms of volunteer support, particularly regarding existential issues following the encounter with the hospice and the patient.
Research has shown that several variables influence the burden of primary caregivers of cancer patients staying at home in the palliative phase, but the associations between these variables have hardly been explored. The aim of this study was to examine the associations of theory-driven variables with the caregivers' burden by means of path analysis. The sample consisted of 96 caregivers of cancer patients in the palliative phase staying at home recruited from a hospital trust in Norway. The dimensions of burden from the Caregiver Reaction Assessment, namely self esteem, lack of family support, impact on finances, and impact on daily schedule, were used as the dependent variable. The following independent variables were tested in the models: the patients' levels of pain, fatigue, and nausea; and the caregivers' physical quality of life, anxiety and depression, and social support. The Partial Least Squares approach to structural equation modelling was used for the path analysis. Model 1 shows the direct associations between the independent variables and the dependent variable, explaining 16% of the variance in caregiver burden. Model 1 supports the finding that only caregivers' depression has a direct significant association with caregiver burden, and shows further that the effects of the other independent variables on burden are mediated through depression. In Model 2, anxiety and depression are mediating factors between three other independent variables and caregiver burden, and 12% of the variance is explained. Model 2 supports none of the independent variables as antecedents of burden. Testing of the models suggested that caregivers' depression was the main factor associated with caregiver burden, but also an important mediator of indirect associations of indirect associations of caregivers' anxiety and physical health.
The long and evolving tradition of palliative care has always had a strong volunteer dimension. The difficult nature of palliative care invites questions around why volunteers choose this particular line of contribution. To expand our knowledge of the elements that create meaning and capture the essence of volunteer experience, we asked volunteers to share the rewards and the challenges of their work and its personal meaning. Significant themes emerged around what volunteers considered the most valuable aspects of their experience. Volunteers identified freedom of choice and the ability to use their natural gifts as an important condition for satisfaction. In addition, they perceived emotional resilience and personal hardiness as important dimensions of their suitability for working in palliative care. Finally, volunteers felt that their approach must be one of a balanced perspective, with an understanding of life and death as part of the human condition.