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competency, HIV/AIDS, nursing, palliative care



  1. Brown, Jami S. DHEd, RN, CNN
  2. Halupa, Colleen EdD, MS, MLT/MT (ASCP)


Background: Critical care nurses provide palliative care to many patients; often, this includes the patient diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS. Ongoing education about both palliative care and this complex diagnosis prepares the nurse to provide compassion and informed care.


Objectives: This study examines the effects of an educational intervention addressing palliative care in the intensive care unit and the needs of the HIV/AIDS patients and families. The study will evaluate the critical care nurses' knowledge and competence in caring for this population following the educational sessions.


Methods: Thirty critical care nurses were recruited from the critical care unit at a hospital in the south. An HIV/AIDS palliative care course provided participants background knowledge, general principles, and opportunities for critical thinking regarding palliative care. A pretest and posttest on palliative care were provided to each subject to assess knowledge and confidence in palliative care in critical care nursing.


Results: The convenience sample of 30 nurses attained a mean pretest score of 82.9%. Their scores improved to 93.5% following the palliative care course. The nurses felt they improved in providing palliative care to patients and in taking responsibility for their practice. Ninety-three percent of the participants wanted to incorporate a palliative care course in nursing orientation.


Discussion: The course improved nurses' knowledge of palliative care for HIV/AIDS patients and their competency in palliative care. Thus, the palliative care course gave nurses deeper insight and improved their ability to provide competence palliative care.