OBJECTIVE: To investigate the process of consenting to do-not-resuscitate status from the perspective of critical care nurses who have been involved with patients and/or family members during their decision. METHOD: A network sample of 22 critical care nurses, with at least 1 year's experience in a critical care unit and self-reported multiple experiences with the do-not-resuscitate consent process, participated in the study. Semistructured, formal interviews were used to collect data. All interviews were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim. The grounded theory method was used to collect and analyze data. RESULTS: The analysis revealed a core category: consenting to do-not-resuscitate status. Integrated into the process were intervening conditions that further explained the process: the meaning of "do not resuscitate," the importance of time/timing in the process, the nurse's role and conflict issues that arose during the process of consenting to do-not-resuscitate status. CONCLUSIONS: The theoretical model developed in this study provides a framework to describe the role of critical care nurses in the do-not-resuscitate process. In addition, a description of the categories provides information for nurses, especially novice nurses, to consider when caring for patients and families who are in the process of making decisions concerning resuscitation.

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