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Keywords:

  • critical care;
  • death and dying;
  • education programme;
  • end-of-life care;
  • evaluation research;
  • support

Aims and objectives

To evaluate the impact of an educational workshop on nursing students’ attitudes to caring for dying patients.

Background

The quality of end-of-life care education provided in preregistration nursing programmes has been criticised. The lack of attention to the emotional content results in nursing students feeling ill-prepared to care for the dying and bereaved. This article reports the findings of a study conducted to evaluate the impact of an educational workshop on undergraduate nursing students’ attitudes to caring for patients at the end of life.

Design

A pre- and postintervention survey was used to determine nursing students’ attitudes and feelings concerning end-of-life care prior to and following their involvement in an educational workshop.

Methods

Third-year undergraduate nursing students completed two questionnaires incorporating the Frommelt Attitude Toward Care of the Dying Scale, before and after attending a ‘Critical Moments’ workshop.

Results

The data revealed a statistically significant increase in positive attitudes to end-of-life care amongst the respondents. Free text responses confirmed the development of positive attitudes and indicated that the workshop was regarded as a valuable learning opportunity.

Conclusions

Workshops that use case studies based on ‘real-life’ episodes of end-of-life care can provide an effective learning opportunity that significantly improves the attitudes of nursing students to caring for the dying.

Relevance to clinical practice

Identifying emotional labour is an important stage in the development of emotionally intelligent nurses. It may reduce the risk of occupational stress, burnout and potential withdrawal from nursing practice in the longer term. Timing, expert facilitation and peer support are important considerations for an educational workshop that aims to enable nurses to remain healthy whilst delivering high-quality care to patients and their relatives near the end of life.