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Palliative care at home: Stress for nurses in urban and rural New South Wales, Australia

Authors

  • Lesley M Wilkes RN, CM, BSc(Hons), GradDipEd(Nurs), MHPEd, PhD,

    1. Professor of Nursing, University of Western Sydney and Wentworth Area Health Service, Clinical Nursing Research Unit, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Barbara Beale RN, CM, BAppSc(Nurs), MNurs(Hons)

    1. Lecturer, School of Nursing, Family and Community Health, University of Western Sydney, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia
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Lesley M Wilkes, Professor of Nursing, University of Western Sydney Nepean and Wentworth Area Health Service, Clinical Nursing Research Unit, PO Box 63, Penrith, New South Wales, 2750, Australia. Email: l.wilkes@nepean.uws.edu.au

Abstract

Nurses often experience positive and negative dimensions of caring for dying clients and their families. This project aimed to compare stress experienced by urban and rural community nurses working with palliative-care clients in the home. Participants included five nurses working in rural Australia and seven nurses working in an urban area. Transcribed data from unstructured audio-taped interviews were coded for common and contrasting themes, and a comparison was made of the stress experienced by the two groups of nurses. The major themes were role conflict and definition, family dynamics, time and workload. For both groups of nurses, the impact of family relationships and role conflict within the community impacted significantly to the stress they experienced. Debriefing opportunities for nurses to discuss stress, including educational and support sessions, is an essential component of best practice. Rural nurses had the additional stress of trying to provide a 24 h service over vast distances with a lack of financial resources.

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