Purpose : This study aimed to develop an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the experiences of critical care nurses caring for dying patients. Method : Eleven critical care nurses with experience in caring for dying patients were recruited from four tertiary hospitals. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted between November 2016 and March 2017. The transcribed data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis to identify major themes and sub-themes that represented the experiences of critical care nurses. Results : The following six themes, and twelve sub-themes, were identified: (1) the gap between expectation and reality, (2) a distorted meaning of death, (3) repeated emotional pain and stress, (4) finding a solution alone, (5) sublimation into mission and calling, and (6) integration into one's own life. Conclusion : This study found that critical care nurses experience various psychological difficulties while caring for dying patients, and they made efforts on their own to overcome them. These findings are expected to inform the development of specialized programs to support critical care nurses to tackle these challenges, create guidelines on caring for dying patients, and help promote death education.
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