Nurses' experiences of end-of-life care in the intensive care unit: an integrative literature review

Korsah, Emmanuel Kwame
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Background: End-of-life (EOL) care has become a significant area of expertise in the intensive care unit. The current multi-cultural society and growing ageing population, characterised by life-threatening illnesses and chronic conditions, makes the provision of high quality end-of-life care within the intensive care unit a stressful and challenging process. Nevertheless, intensive care nurses remain the frontline caregivers of end-of-life care for patients and their families. Nurses have described end-of-life care as difficult and demanding work, yet, they have also described their experiences of providing end-of-life care as rewarding and a valued opportunity to provide special nursing care. Purpose: The purpose of the integrative review is to gather evidence related to nurses experiences in the provision of end-of-life care to patients and families in the intensive care unit. Design: An integrative review using the Whittemore and Knafl (2005) framework. These stages included problem identification, literature search, data evaluation, data analysis and presentation of findings. Methods: a comprehensive literature search was performed using PubMed, SCOPUS, ProQuest, MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Nursing academic search databases and Goggle Scholar to locate primary studies, both published and unpublished, in English from January 2007 to June 2018. A total of 1078 papers were screened, with 86 read in-depth and 38 selected for this review based on the eligibility criteria. Results: Five themes emerged from the review. Doing the right thing; Emotional labour, conflicts and uncertainties; Remaining committed and develop coping strategies; Barriers to the provision of EOL care; Facilitators of EOL care in the ICU.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in partial fulfillment the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nursing Johannesburg, 2019
Korsah, Emmanuel Kwame (2019) Nurses experiences of end-of-life care in the intensive care unit: an integrative literature review, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>