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Bloomer, M.1; Copnell, B.1; Endacott, R.1; O’Connor, M.1
1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Background and aims: Death anxiety (DA) in nurses who frequently care for dying children can contribute to job dissatisfaction and burnout, and may result in suboptimal end-of-life care. DA has not been investigated in the paediatric (PICU) or neonatal intensive care (NICU) context.
Aims: To determine the prevalence of death anxiety in PICU and NICU nurses and identify associated demographic factors.
Methods: Ethics approval was obtained from the university and participating hospitals. The study was conducted by anonymous survey using a 14-item modified Templer Death Anxiety Scale. Questionnaires were distributed to 360 nurses in the PICU and NICU in two metropolitan tertiary hospitals. Item responses were scored 0=no DA or 1=DA. Scores were summed to give a total DA score (possible range 0–14) for each participant. Multiple regression was used to investigate associations between DA score and demographic characteristics.
Results: 275 questionnaires were returned (response rate 76.4%): 141 (51.3%) from NICU and 134 (48.7%) from PICU. DA scores ranged from 0 to 12, with mean (SD) of 6.16 (2.62). Death anxiety decreased with increasing age (coeff. -0.055; 95% CIs -0.086, -0.024; p=0.001) and was lower in those with postgraduate qualifications (coeff. -0.676; 95% CIs -1.32, -0.030; p=0.04).
Conclusions: The extent of death anxiety varied considerably in this sample and was only partially explained by demographic characteristics. Education emerged as the only modifiable factor; further investigation into its potential protective effect is warranted. Nurses who experience high levels of death anxiety may need additional support in the workplace to assist them in caring for dying children and infants.
©2014The Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies
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