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What Constitutes a Dignified Death? The Voice of Oncology Advanced Practice Nurses

VOLKER, DEBORAH L. PhD, RN, AOCN; LIMERICK, MICHAEL PhD, RN, APRN, BC

doi: 10.1097/01.NUR.0000289749.77866.7c
CONTINUING EDUCATION: CE FEATURE ARTICLE
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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the concept of dignified dying from the perspective of oncology advanced practice nurses.

Methodology: A naturalistic, hermeneutic approach was used to interview the study participants. A sample of 19 oncology advanced practice nurses was obtained by combining data sets from 2 larger studies of patient control and end-of-life care. Audiotaped interviews of the nurses were transcribed verbatim and were analyzed using a phenomenological approach.

Results: The analysis revealed that dignified dying is an experience that includes the following themes: going in peace, maintaining bodily integrity, and dying on their own terms.

Conclusions: Advanced practice nurses lend an important perspective that expands understanding of the concept of dignified dying. Future studies of patient and family perceptions will enhance knowledge of their needs and lead to intervention studies to promote an end-of-life experience that is consistent with patient priorities and values.

From the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, Austin, Tex.

Corresponding author: Deborah L. Volker, PhD, RN, AOCN, The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, Austin, TX (e-mail: dvolker@mail.nur.utexas.edu).

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.