The lived experiences of Taiwanese hospice nurses caring for dying patients
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Hospice nurses are primary professional caregivers providing end-of-life care to dying patients and their families. The terminal care practices often place heavy physical, emotional, and spiritual demands on hospice nurses. The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of Taiwanese nurses who care for dying patients in hospices. The research question that guided this study was: What is the lived experience of Taiwanese hospice nurses who caring for dying patients? The conceptual orientation of this study was based on Paterson and Zderad’s (1976) Humanistic Nursing Theory, which is rooted in phenomenology, intersubjectivity, and existential thought. A snowball sampling technique was employed to recruit 14 female participants who worked in six different hospices in central and southern Taiwan. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted and transcribed by the researcher. The data analysis was based on Colaizzi’s (1978) guidelines. Four main themes and three sub-themes emerged from thematic analysis. The four main themes are: (1) entering the specialty of hospice, (2) managing everyday work, (3) living with the challenges, and (4) reaping the rewards. Three sub-themes of managing everyday work include providing holistic, meaningful care through close relationships; confronting and managing negative beliefs about hospice; and managing the dying process. These main themes and subthemes constituted the fundamental structure of these hospice nurses’ caregiving experiences which was an evolving journey. The results of this study provide nursing educators, students, staff and administrators insights into the hospice nurses’ experience and hospice care in Taiwan. They can use these data to improve nursing education and change nursing practice. Additionally, researchers can design further studies to expand nursing knowledge to advance staff development and improve quality care for dying patients and their families.