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Study to find how nurses cope with death

June 2, 2012 at 1:22 AM

MELBOURNE, June 2 (UPI) -- A study is investigating the challenges nurses face in caring for dying patients and their families, researchers in Australia said.

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne said they will examine how pediatric and neonatal intensive care units nurses manage grief associated with caring for a dying patient.

Lead researcher Melissa Bloomer of the School of Nursing and Midwifery said ICU nurses often struggled to provide the support, time and space families needed to grieve for dying patients.

"Most nurses have no formal training in caring for families after a death," Bloomer said in a statement. "The education of ICU nurses focuses on rescue and survival care rather than supporting the dying patient and their families."

An earlier study by Bloomer identified constraints for nurses caring for dying patients, including the design of the ICU for observation, making it difficult to provide privacy for grieving families, and pressure to free up beds for other patients.

The current study will explore how nurses working in pediatric and neonatal ICUs continue to maintain their professionalism and find the resilience to support grieving families, Bloomer said.

"Research revealed death anxiety was higher in health professionals," Bloomer said. "However, there are nurses who have developed coping mechanisms or have the internal fortitude to face the next day."

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