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certification, family, hospice, nurse, palliative, preparation



  1. Kehl, Karen A. PhD, RN, ACHPN, FPCN


While nurses usually prepare family for the patients' final days, little is known about how this is done. The purpose of this study was to describe nurses' beliefs and practices concerning family preparation for dying, focusing on strategies, tailoring, timing, and content of preparation. Nurses' preparatory practices were compared by patient population (hospice or palliative care) and the nurses' certification status. A descriptive, comparative survey was conducted. All registered nurse members of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association who met the inclusion criteria (N = 2706) were invited, and 1434 (53.1%) participated. Nurses believe families can be prepared and identified trust and repetition as important strategies. There are significant differences based on population regarding nurses' beliefs about preparation, strategies, tailoring, timing, and content. Tailoring differed based on certification status. This information can be compared with what is known about family preparatory needs to develop preparatory interventions that are tailored to patient and family characteristics. Revisiting the similarities and differences in the practice of nurses in hospice and palliative care is important as the specialty continues to mature to ensure that adequate education and proper criteria for certification are being provided for all hospice and palliative care nurses.