Study uncovers staff perceptions

Freya Shearer, Sarah-Jayne Harris , Ian Rogers, Gail Ross-Adjie and Leanne Monterosso.

Freya Shearer, Sarah-Jayne Harris , Ian Rogers, Gail Ross-Adjie and Leanne Monterosso.

The emergency department, although not historically a palliative care setting, is sometimes an environment in which staff can initiate discussions and apply palliative care principles to their patients and families.

Researchers at St John of God Murdoch Hospital, in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame Australia, embarked on a hospital-wide study to uncover the perceptions emergency department staff have about palliative care; whether they would be able to identify such patients and if there was a need for staff education.

Researcher Freya Shearer says attitudes to palliative care have changed over the past years, and as such, treatment of patients should reflect this.

“Palliative care is more than just the care of those who are imminently dying; it can be appropriate for those with any type of life-limiting condition,” says Ms Shearer.

“We were interested in discovering staff perspectives of palliative care, their views about death and dying and their awareness of common causes of death in Australia.”

Survey responses from 22 doctors and 44 nurses revealed staff expressed confidence in the clinical aspects of palliative care, but underestimated its role early on in diagnoses and for the treatment of different illnesses.

“We found staff sought further education in areas such as ethical issues and end-of-life communication with patients and their families,” says Ms Shearer.

“We are now looking forward to organising training that is specific to the emergency department and clinical interventions in palliative care provision.”

Understanding emergency department staff needs and perceptions in the provision of palliative care was published in Emergency Medicine Australia.

 

 

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