Hopeful nurses are more comfortable, confident in caring for dying children

Nurses with higher levels of hopefulness are more likely to report feeling confident and competent in their ability to care for dying children and their families. Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, reporting on a survey of hundreds of pediatric nurses, said that nurses who were more confident about their skills also were more likely to have received education in palliative care--the practice of providing high-quality, responsive care to patients with a life-threatening illness.

The study appears in the January issue of Pediatrics.

"Very few researchers have analyzed whether healthcare providers' underlying beliefs and feelings are associated with their ability to care for dying children and their families," said study authors Chris Feudtner, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.; and Gina Santucci, M.S.N., of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "This study may help educators develop programs to help nurses and other healthcare providers to address difficult situations."

A pediatrician and a nurse, respectively, Dr. Feudtner and Ms. Santucci are experts on pediatric palliative care and members of the Hospital's Pediatric Advanced Care Team, which provides palliative, end-of-life and bereavement services.

The study team analyzed responses from 410 pediatric nurses at Children's Hospital in spring 2005 with a web-based, written survey. The survey asked the nurses whether they were comfortable working with dying children and their families and inquired about their knowledge, attitudes, practices and experiences regarding aspects of palliative and end-of-life care. The team also used questions from a standardized measuring tool called the Adult Dispositional Hope Scale.

The Hope Scale measures attitudes about goal-setting and problem-solving, asking people whether they agree with statements such as, "I meet the goals I set for myself," "I can think of many ways to get out of a jam," and "I can think of many wa

Contact: John Ascenzi
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

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