An investigation into nurses' knowledge, comfort level, and behaviors regarding palliative and hospice care

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Background/Purpose: Hospital nurses are often the first line caregivers who receive questions regarding hospice and palliative care. Research has identified underutilization of these services due to multiple barriers in the referral process.This study aimed to identify nurse knowledge and comfort levels with hospice and palliative care and any barriers they perceive in referrals.Methods: A survey was distributed to acute care nurses on various specialty units at two large hospitals in SC. The questions covered demographics, knowledge and comfort level with hospice and palliative care, and perceived barriers to referral.Results: Seventy-nine nurses completed the survey. Overall, nurses reported being somewhat knowledgeable regarding hospice care and palliative care services.Conclusions:In general,nurses are only somewhat knowledgeable regarding when hospice and palliative care referrals are appropriate,and they are not comfortable with nor likely to initiate discussions concerning hospice or palliative care with physicians, patients, or families.This has led to lack of meaningful discussions of this type of care in the healthcare setting.

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