End of life decisions: Nurses perceptions, feelings and experiences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Decisions to withdraw treatment are made on a regular basis in intensive care units. While nurses play a central role in patient care, previous studies have found that they are not always involved in withdrawal decisions.

To explore the experiences of ICU nurses caring for patients who have had their treatment withdrawn and to answer two research questions: what role do nurses play and how does this affect them?

Constructivist grounded theory was used to explore the experiences and feelings of ICU nurses. A purposive sample of eight ICU nurses participated and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data. Framework analysis was used to facilitate systematic analysis.

The analysis revealed two major themes (1) the nurse's role: experience counts, not really a nurse's decision, planting the seed, supporting the family and being a patient advocate and (2) perceptions of the withdrawal of treatment: getting the timing right and emotional labour.

Nurses make an important contribution to end of life decisions and care. Guidelines recommend they have input into withdrawal decisions, therefore it is imperative that nurses are supported in this role and their responsibilities to continue to provide care during withdrawal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-259
Number of pages8
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • End of life decisions
  • Withdrawal of treatment
  • Intesnsive care; Nurses and decision making


Dive into the research topics of 'End of life decisions: Nurses perceptions, feelings and experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this