Palliative care for patients with cancer: district nurses’ experiences

K Dunne, K Sullivan, WG Kernohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


Aim. This paper reports a study exploring district nurses’ experiences of providingpalliative care for patients with cancer and their families.Background. There is an increasing demand for palliative care in the community, asmany patients wish to die at home. District nurses are central to providing palliativecare in the community, but there is a dearth of literature on district nurses’experiences in palliative care.Method. A Husserlian phenomenological approach was adopted with a purposivesample of 25 female district nurses. Data were collected using unstructured, taperecordedinterviews and analysed using Colaizzi’s seven stages of data analysis.Findings. Four themes were identified: the communication web; the family as anelement of care; challenges for the district nurse in symptom management and thepersonal cost of caring.Conclusions. District nurses’ experiences of providing palliative care to family unitswas challenging but rewarding. The emotive nature of the experience cannot beunder-estimated, as many district nurses were touched by the varying situations.Whilst acknowledging the need to maintain an integrated approach to care, districtnurses should be identified as the key workers in the complex situation of palliativecare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-380
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number4
Early online date12 Apr 2005
Publication statusPublished online - 12 Apr 2005

Bibliographical note

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  • district nursing
  • palliative care
  • Husserlian phenomenology
  • end-of-life
  • care
  • cancer nursing


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