Preventing Apprehension in NICU Nurses Caring for Dying Infants

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Gary Dean Parker, PhD, MS, BSN
Research and Education, Mercy Health Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Michelle E. Mcever, BSN
NICU, Mercy Health Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Linda Fanning, RN, BSN, MS
Nursing Administration, Mercy Health Center, Oklahoma, OK

Learning Objective 1: read how the professional end of life attitude scale can be used to measure apprehension in nurses who care for dying patients.

Learning Objective 2: Take back to their hospital proactive educational measures that were used to help NICU nurses care for dying infants and their families.

Purpose: One does not often think of end-of - life nursing duties being performed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  However, NICU nurses are now being called to interact with dying infants and their families. The purpose of this poster is to share with the reader the educational interventions that were developed and aimed at helping NICU nurses provide end of life care.  

Methods: Following the end of life care education provided to NICU nurses from hospitals in  Missouri and Oklahoma, 118 nurses received The Professional End-of-Life Care Attitude Scale (PEAS). This scale allows the researcher to identify the level of apprehension nurses may experience (real or perceived) while providing end of life care for patients and their families.

Results: The sample consisted of 118 NICU nurses, 3 of whom were male, and 112 being female ( 3 persons failed to provide information about gender. Overall the PEAS scores indicated that the sample was at best, mildly to moderately concerned about interacting/communicating with patients and families regarding matters of death and dying (overall M= 72. 9, SD = 10.2, range = 49-101; average item-specific response M = 2.35, SD = .32, range = 1.58-3.26.

Conclusion: , Given the emotionally difficult task of caring for dying infants, this data speak to the resilience and compassion demonstrated by this sample of NICU nurses in caring for infants with terminal prognoses.  The education provided seems to have decreased the  apprehension and empowered the nurses when compared to the previous sample.