Twenty percent of Americans live in rural areas where most of their health care is provided in critical-access hospitals (CAHs). It is unknown how frequently obstacle and helpful behavior items occur in end-of-life (EOL) care in CAHs.
The aims of this study were to determine the frequency of occurrence scores of obstacle and helpful behavior items in providing EOL care in CAHs and to also determine which obstacles and helpful behaviors have the greatest or least impact on EOL care based on the magnitude scores.
A questionnaire was sent to nurses working in 39 CAHs in the United States. Nurse participants were asked to rate obstacle and helpful behavior items by size and frequency of occurrence. Data were analyzed to quantify the impact of obstacle and helpful behavior items on EOL care in CAHs by multiplying the mean size by the mean frequency of items to determine mean magnitude scores.
Items with the highest and lowest frequency were determined. In addition, obstacle and helpful behavior item magnitude scores were calculated. Seven of the top 10 obstacles were related to patients' families. Seven of the top 10 helpful behaviors involved nurses ensuring families had positive experiences.
Nurses in CAHs perceived issues around patient family members as significant obstacles to EOL care. Nurses work to ensure that families have positive experiences. Visiting hour issues seemed to be irrelevant. The use of technology, such as telehealth, seemed to provide little benefit in EOL care in CAHs.