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culture care theory, comfort, communication, end-of-life care, ethnonursing research method, faith, hope



  1. Fornehed, Mary Lou Clark PhD, RN, ACNP-BC
  2. Mixer, Sandra J. PhD, RN, CTN-A
  3. Lindley, Lisa C. PhD, RN, FPCN, FAAN


Caring for persons at the end of life has dramatically changed in the last 20 years. Improved chronic illness management and aggressive life-sustaining measures for once-fatal illnesses have significantly increased longevity. People with life-limiting illnesses and their families are asked to make complex and difficult decisions about end-of-life, palliative, and hospice care. The purpose of this study was to discover and describe the culture care expressions, patterns, and practices influencing rural Appalachian families making decisions at the end of life. The qualitative, ethnonursing research method was used to analyze data from 25 interviews. The 4 themes discovered provide insights that could help improve this underserved population's access to palliative and hospice care, which in turn could help them experience a dignified death. Recommendations for health care providers could help reduce rural Appalachians' health disparities and promote meaningful, culturally congruent end-of-life care.