To describe nursing students' reasoning about emotionally demanding questions concerning the care of dying patients.
The Frommelt Attitude Toward Care of the Dying (FATCOD) Scale was completed by students at the beginning of their education, and there was great variation in the responses to five items. At a follow-up measurement in the second year, an open-ended question, 'How did you reason when completing this question?', was added to each of the these five items. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyse the responses.
Of 140 students who completed the FATCOD, 111 provided free-text responses. The analysis of these responses revealed three themes: death perceptions, the students' understanding of their current situation, and the nurse's responsibility.
This study provides useful information on students' reasoning about emotionally demanding questions relating to the care of dying patients. Such knowledge is valuable in helping students to overcome their fear and fulfil their expectations concerning their future proficiency.