Nurses’ Interest in Independently Initiating End-of-Life Conversations and Palliative Care Consultations in a Suburban, Community Hospital

Ambereen K. Mehta, Steven Wilks, M. Jennifer Cheng, Karen Baker, Ann Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Patients who receive early palliative care consults have clinical courses and outcomes more consistent with their goals. Nurses have been shown to be advocates for early palliative care involvement and are able to lead advanced care planning discussions. Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess whether after a brief educational session, nurses at a suburban, community hospital could demonstrate knowledge of palliative care principles, would want to independently initiate end-of-life conversations with patients and families, and would want to place specialty palliative care consults. Design: Four 1 hour presentations were made at 4 nursing leadership council meetings from November through December 2015. Anonymous pre- and post-presentation surveys were distributed and collected in person. Setting/Participant: Nonprofit, suburban, community hospital in Maryland. Participants were full-time or part-time hospital employees participating in a nursing leadership council who attended the presentation. Measurements: We compared responses from pre- and post-presentation surveys. Results: Fifty nurses (19 departments) completed pre-presentation surveys (100% response rate) and 49 nurses completed post-presentation surveys (98% response rate). The average score on 7 index questions increased from 71% to 90%. After the presentations, 86% strongly agreed or agreed that nurses should be able to independently order a palliative care consult and 88% strongly agreed or agreed with feeling comfortable initiating an end-of-life conversation. Conclusion: Brief educational sessions can teach palliative care principles to nurses. Most participants of the study would want to be able to directly consult palliative care and would feel comfortable initiating end-of-life conversations after this educational session.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-403
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • consult
  • education
  • end-of-life conversation
  • nursing
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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