Factors influencing nurses' attitudes toward death

Georgeana Gama, Filipe Barbosa*, Margarida Vieira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Studies on nurses' attitudes to caring for terminally ill patients indicate that death and dying create fears and anxieties for health-care providers. Aim: To identify nurses' most common attitudes toward death and the sociodemographic, professional, and training factors that significantly affect those attitudes. Method: This was a descriptive correlational study with a sample of 360 nurses from the internal medicine, oncology, hematology, and palliative care departments of five health institutions in Lisbon (response rate 70.6% of all nurses). Data were collected using a sociodemographic and professional questionnaire (QSDE) and the Portuguese versions of the Death Attitude Profile-Revised (DAP-R) scale and the Adult Attachment Scale (AAS). Results: Older nurses (P≤0.0001) and nurses with more work experience (P≤0.0001) had higher escape acceptance. Female nurses had higher religious acceptance (P≤0.0001). Medicine, oncology, and hematology nurses had significantly higher fear attitudes (P≤0.01), avoidance of death attitudes (P≤0.0001), and escape acceptance attitudes (P≤0.0002) than palliative care nurses. Conclusion: This study contributes to a better understanding of the factors that underlie nurses' attitudes toward death. This may be useful for creating relevant and effective pre- and post-graduate nursing training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-273
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Palliative Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Attachment styles
  • Attitude to death
  • Nurse training
  • Palliative care
  • Terminal care


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