Developing palliative care models in neonatal nursing : an investigation of barriers and parameters for practice

Kain, Victoria J. (2008) Developing palliative care models in neonatal nursing : an investigation of barriers and parameters for practice. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is frequently occupied by newborns who are marginally viable, or critically unwell, and could be considered terminally ill. It is a busy, highly technical environment with an arsenal of life-saving medical equipment at its disposal, and advances in technology used in this field stretch the boundaries of viability. Despite technological advances, increases in the margins of viability and highly skilled healthcare delivery, some newborns will still die in the NICU. In recent years, palliative care for the neonatal population has become increasingly topical and part of the lexicon of contemporary neonatal practice. Evidence-based protocols are available to inform this model of care, yet in reality, provision of palliative care to newborns is ad hoc. The reasons why implementing a palliative model of care have been problematic are unclear. The purpose of this study was to identify the barriers and facilitators to palliative care practice in neonatal nursing, and to develop policy recommendations to improve this area of practice. This exploratory research was conducted to answer two research questions: 1) What are the barriers and facilitators to palliative care practice in neonatal nursing? 2) How can the identified issues be addressed to inform policy and clinical guidelines in the practice environment? Phase one of this investigation developed, pilot tested, and administered an instrument to identify the barriers and facilitators to practice. Data analysis identified three subscales that indicated facilitators and barriers to palliative care practice. The second phase of this study used a translational research approach, utilizing interpretive methods to explore and contextualise the population study findings to inform policy development to improve palliative care practice in neonatal nursing. This research has identified that the facilitators that do exist for palliative care practice are subject to caveats that impinge markedly upon these facilitators. Furthermore, the barriers that were identified pose threats to the integration of a palliative model of care into Australian neonatal nursing practice. Thus, the overall results from this research have lead to a composite understanding of the barriers and facilitators to palliative care practice in Australian neonatal nursing, which may account for the gap between support of palliative care for marginally viable and critically ill newborns, and the application of this model of care in clinical practice. Translating the survey findings into policy directives that are applicable to the clinical environment has resulted in the development of recommendations that are aimed at improving palliative care practice in the NICU.

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ID Code: 17012
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Gardner, Glenn & Yates, Patricia
Keywords: palliative care, neonatal nursing
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Dec 2008 23:49
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:51

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