Critical care nurses routinely provide end-of-life (EOL) care for patients and their families. Research in the late 1990s identified various obstacles that hindered nurses’ ability to deliver high-quality EOL care. However, it is unknown if progress has been made since that time.

Beckstrand and colleagues surveyed critical care nurses to identify the current obstacles and helpful behaviors related to EOL care and compared them with the 1999 survey data. They found

  • Overall results did not change, with many obstacles and helpful behaviors consistent over time.

  • Nurses still perceive families as an obstacle to high-quality EOL care.

  • Obstacles related to intensive care unit environment and physicians’ communication with patients and families have improved.

The authors recommend that nurses take the lead for improved EOL education with the general public. In addition, focused education for nurses can improve communication with and quality of care...

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