5 years ago

A qualitative study of community nurses’ decision-making around the anticipatory prescribing of end-of-life medications

Sarah A Redsell, Ben Bowers
Aims The aim of this study was to explore community nurses’ decision-making processes around the prescribing of anticipatory medications for people who are dying. Background Community nurses frequently initiate the prescribing of anticipatory medications to help control symptoms in those who are dying. However, little is known about their decision-making processes in relation to when they instigate anticipatory prescribing and their discussions with families and General Practitioners. Design A qualitative interpretive descriptive enquiry. Methods A purposive sample of 11 Community Palliative Nurses and District Nurses working in one geographical area participated. Data were collected between March and June 2016 via audio recorded semi-structured interviews and analysed inductively using Braun and Clarke's thematic analysis. Results Three themes were identified: (1) Drugs as a safety net. Anticipatory medications give nurses a sense of control in last days of life symptom management; (2) Reading the situation. The nurse judges when to introduce conversations around anticipatory medications, balancing the need for discussion with the dying person and their family's likely response; (3) Playing the game. The nurse owns the decision to initiate anticipatory medication prescribing and carefully negotiates with the General Practitioner. Conclusion Nurses view pain control through prescribed medication as key to symptom management for dying people. Consequently, they own the role of ascertaining when to initiate discussions with families about anticipatory medicines. Nurses believe they advocate for dying person and their families’ needs and lead negotiations with General Practitioners for medications to go into the home. This nurse led care alters the traditional boundaries of the General Practitioners-nurse professional relationship.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/jan.13319

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