End of life care pedagogy, death attitudes, and knowing participation in change

Vidette Todaro-Franceschi, Mark Spellmann


Background: End of life care continues to be an area of glaring concern in health care. In addition, literature points to continued inconsistencies in end of life care education for those in the health professions, despite accumulating studies which suggest that preparation is needed to care for those who are dying and their loved ones. Some research findings suggest that there is a relationship between perceptions of preparedness and ability to provide care at the end of life and the nurse’s professional and perhaps personal quality of life.  Thus, the purpose of this internally funded research project was to explore whether or not there would be changes in students’ death attitudes and power as knowing participation in change after they received coursework on end of life care (EOLC).

Methods: A pre-test post-test design was used with participants as their own controls. Barrett’s nursing theory of power as knowing participation in change formed the theoretic backdrop for this study in which sixty undergraduate (N = 12 RN to BSN students; N = 48 generic students) and 6 graduate students participated. The pedagogic intervention consisted of either a full term elective on EOLC or four discontinuously placed classes during the junior year. Twenty eight of the students took a full term class on EOLC and the rest had four discontinuously placed lectures.

Results: The findings were statistically significant for both death attitudes and power (as knowing participation in change).

Conclusions: Teaching EOLC may enhance not only the quality of living-dying experiences for those entrusted to our care but also the carer’s personal and professional quality of life through their knowing participation in change. Since professional quality of life is known to be related to quality of care rendered, productivity, retention and recruitment of nurses, we would do well to explore this area further.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v3n2p120

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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