Novice Nurses’ Experiences With Palliative and End-of-Life Communication

Verna L. Hendricks-Ferguson, Kathleen J. Sawin, Kitty Montgomery, Claretta Dupree, Celeste R. Phillips-Salimi, Barb Carr, Joan E. Haase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Health care providers recognize that delivery of effective communication with family members of children with life-threatening illnesses is essential to palliative and end-of-life care (PC/EOL). Parents value the presence of nurses during PC/EOL of their dying child. It is vital that nurses, regardless of their years of work experience, are competent and feel comfortable engaging family members of dying children in PC/EOL discussions. This qualitative-descriptive study used focus groups to explore the PC/EOL communication perspectives of 14 novice pediatric oncology nurses (eg, with less than 1 year of experience). Audio-taped focus group discussions were reviewed to develop the following 6 theme categories: (a) Sacred Trust to Care for the Child and Family, (b) An Elephant in the Room, (c) Struggling with Emotional Unknowns, (d) Kaleidoscope of Death: Patterns and Complexity, (e) Training Wheels for Connectedness: Critical Mentors during PC/EOL of Children, and (f) Being Present with an Open Heart: Ways to Maintain Hope and Minimize Emotional Distress. To date, this is the first study to focus on PC/EOL communication perspectives of novice pediatric oncology nurses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-252
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 15 2015


  • end-of-life communication
  • palliative care
  • pediatric oncology nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Oncology(nursing)

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