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Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing

April 2007, Volume 9 Number 2 , p 100 - 106


  • Patricia Claessens RN, MSN
  • Ellen Genbrugge RN
  • Rita Vannuffelen RN
  • Bert Broeckaert PhD
  • Paul Schotsmans PhD
  • Johan Menten MD, PhD


Despite the fact that palliative sedation can be considered a gradually accepted form of therapy within palliative care, it still remains a much debated issue in palliative nursing. Moreover, research shows that palliative sedation often involves an emotional burden for care providers and, more specifically, for nurses. This article focuses on clarifying how palliative sedation as a therapy fits into the care perspective of palliative nursing. It describes the way in which decisions can be made about sedation and how the practical procedure may be carried out, and it illustrates the role the nurse can play. It becomes clear that nurses, alongside other care providers, play a crucial role in the process of palliative sedation. By using this step-by-step plan for palliative sedation, however, the decision-making process becomes multidisciplinary and diminishes the emotional burden for nurses. Moreover, it brings about clarity among care providers on when palliative sedation is and is not an issue.

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