Palliative Care Nurses' Perceptions of Good and Bad Deaths and Care Expectations: A Qualitative Analysis

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Nursing and Public Health




This article was originally published as: Kristjanson, L. J., McPhee, I., Pickstock, S., Wilson, D., Oldham, L., & Martin, K. (2001). Palliative care nurses’ perceptions of good and bad deaths and care expectations: a qualitative analysis. International journal of palliative nursing, 7(3), 129-139. Original article available here


Individuals who are involved with the death of a person with a terminal illness will often classify the death as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Families and health-care practitioners assess many factors when determining their ‘success’ or ‘failure’ in assisting someone in the terminal phase. Palliative care nurses are particularly vulnerable to self-assessments about care of the dying, because death is a daily occurrence. Feelings of failure, unmet expectations and feelings of regret about not being able to prevent a traumatic death may be a source of stress for palliative care nurses and may affect their abilities to function effectively. This article reports the findings of a study involving interviews with 20 palliative care nurses to determine their perceptions of a good and bad death. The study also examined the expectations they hold of themselves and that they believe others hold of them in helping patients to attain a good death. Clinical implications are discussed based on these findings.




Link to publisher version (DOI)