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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Perception of palliative care practice of health care professionals in a mental institution : a descriptive study Tanner, Carolyn A.


The purpose of this descriptive study is to investigate the perception of practice of health care professionals at a mental institution, as it pertains to their work with dying patients, and also to identify areas of change. The conceptual framework is constructed of six factors important to palliative care that have been identified from the literature. These are personal death anxiety, organizational structure of the hospital system, role expectations of professionals, teamwork, education and training for care of the dying, and conveyance and exchange of diagnostic information. The sample surveyed by a written questionnaire included physicians, psychiatrists, health care workers, social workers and pastoral care workers from the Geriatric Division of Riverview Hospital, Port Coquitlam. The findings indicate that age, sex, marital status and length of working experience at Riverview Hospital had no significant association with personal death anxiety. Informal education such as workshops and in-services had a significant correlation with personal death anxiety, as did perception of being competent and/or confident about working with the dying. The study also raised concerns that not all was being done for the dying patients and their families at this institution. Suggestions such as education and training, support mechanisms, and less stereotyping of professional roles were offered to improve this situation. As well, findings indicated that there was a need for palliative care service either in the form of a team or separate unit, or simply the practicing of the palliative care philosophy.

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