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end-of-life care, family relations, hospice care, literature review, nurse-patient communication



  1. Lowey, Susan E. MS, RN, CHN, BC


Little research describes communication among the nurse, patient, and family at the very end of life. How do nurses communicate imminent death to loved ones of a terminally ill patient whose death is expected but not fully anticipated? A systematic review of the literature was performed on four subcategories that are interrelated within this phenomenon. The nurse-patient relationship, family caregiver needs, communication, and experience of dying in end-of-life/hospice care were examined. Common themes that emerged included the similarities between the nurse-patient relationship and communication, the effectiveness of using a team approach in communication, the needs of caregivers for more effective communication and information regarding end-of-life care, and maintaining closeness and normalcy with their loved one until death. No studies focused specifically on the nature of nurse-family communication during the final days or hours of life, which would be an area for future research to explore.