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Health Professional’s Experiences of Supporting Teenagers Who Have Lost a Parent

Punziano, Antonella Cinzia PhD, RN; Piredda, Michela PhD, MSc, BSc, RN; Mastroianni, Chiara PhD, RN; Fiorelli, Francesca Romana RN; De Marinis, Maria Grazia BSc, RN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: October 2017 - Volume 19 - Issue 5 - p 415–423
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000360
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Caring for dying patients requires special attention when teenagers are present in the family. The aim of this study was to understand palliative care professionals' experiences of providing supportive care for teenaged children of patients in palliative care. From April 2014 to November 2015, 7 focus groups were conducted with 62 health professionals working in different Italian hospices. The study design is the descriptive phenomenological approach using the method presented by Giorgi. Eight themes were identified: during adolescence, the reality of the loss is unthinkable; the loss generates negative emotions; the loss can free up resources; a loss takes time to process; the loss is a catalyst for change; the authentic relationship is central to the loss; being present in the loss; and dealing with the loss requires competent help. This study suggests the importance of establishing open and honest communication with the adolescents as soon as possible and involving them in assisting the parent who is dying to enable the adolescents to have more positive reactions to death and to better elaborate the loss. The health professionals can develop competencies that enable them to identify the needs and resources required for specific and personalized interventions.

Antonella Cinzia Punziano, PhD, RN, is nursing teacher, Nursing Science, Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy.

Michela Piredda, PhD, MSc, BSc, RN, is nursing teacher, Nursing Science, Research Unit, Campus Bio-Medico University, Rome, Italy.

Chiara Mastroianni, PhD, RN, is nursing teacher, Nursing Science, Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy.

Francesca Romana Fiorelli, RN, is practice registered nurse, Campus Bio-Medico University, Rome, Italy.

Maria Grazia De Marinis, BSc, RN, is associate professor of nursing, School of Nursing, Campus Bio-Medico University, Rome, Italy.

Address correspondence to Antonella Cinzia Punziano, RN, Via della Magliana 74b, 00146 Roma, Italy (a.punziano@inail.it; antonella.punziano@libero.it).

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2017 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.