Oral Presentation Palliative Care Nurses Australia Conference 2020

Concealing disclosure: Nurses grief experiences after the death of a patient within acute care setting  (70437)

Nikki Meller 1
  1. Western Sydney University, Penrith, Sydney, NEW SOUTH WALES (NSW), Australia

Introduction - Identifying and understanding how nurses recognise and manage their own grief responses when a patient has died, may present an opportunity to better understand how nurses manage and negotiate their grief reactions, and how organisations can best support them managing their grief.

Aims - The aim of this study was to understand how nurses experience grief after the death of a patient and how they manage their grief within the context of the workplace.

Methods - A constructivist grounded theory methodology has been used for this study. Sixteen in-depth intensive interviews have been conducted whilst utilising concurrent data collection and constant comparative analysis.

Findings - Three categories, ‘Being present’, ‘Inner Conflict’, ‘A culture of coping’ have been constructed from the data. These categories describe a nurse’s grief and how their day to day responsibilities and perceived social identity interrupt’s their ability to grieve when a patient has died. It also highlights a nurse’s inherent understanding of their caring role and expected professional behaviour when managing a patient death. The basic social process, ‘Concealing Disclosure’, identifies the process of a nurse’s experiences of grief and how they manage their grief at work.

Implications for practice - These findings may present an opportunity for changes in best practice and individual self-care strategies for nurses who may be grieving the death of a patient. If a nurse’s own grief is managed appropriately, it may increase their capacity to provide better quality patient care to future patients but more importantly, increase use of self-care strategies and workplace debriefing after the death of a patient.

Conclusion - Nurses act and behave in a commonly acceptable way when dealing with a patient death. They conform to concealing their grief reactions and taking control of the clinical situation to continue providing patient care when the patient is dying or has died. The findings of this study present opportunities to build capacity and highlight nurse mental health and well-being support as a priority within the acute care setting.