Knowledge and perceived competence among nurses caring for the dying in long-term care homes
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BACKGROUND: The quality of care provided to dying long-term care (LTC) residents is often inadequate, which may be due to the lack of formal training that LTC staff receive in palliative care (PC). The present cross-sectional study assessed PC knowledge and self-efficacy in ability to provide PC in a sample of registered nurses working in LTC homes. METHOD: A survey was conducted in four LTC homes in October 2009 to June 2010. Nursing staff knowledge of PC was evaluated using the Palliative Care Quiz for Nurses (PCQN). The Self-Efficacy in End-of-Life Care Survey (S-EOLC) was used to measure nursing staff confidence in their ability to provide PC. FINDINGS: Close to 60% of the nursing staff participated (69 of 119). The participants did not score highly on the PCQN: the average correct score ranged from 52.50% to 63.41% across the homes. There were no significant differences between the homes for the mean number of correct responses on the PCQN (P=0.329) or mean scores for the three S-EOLC subscales. Rank ordering of the percentage of correct PCQN answers by item and LTC home demonstrated that similar misconceptions were held across homes. CONCLUSION: Despite their confidence in PC practice, the participants' PC knowledge gap reveals a need for PC training for staff working in LTC homes. The PC education and training provided should both include a gerontological perspective and address the expertise and knowledge already held by staff.
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