An intervention to improve respiratory therapists' comfort with end-of-life care.

  • Brown-Saltzman K
  • Upadhya D
  • Larner L
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: Respiratory therapists (RTs) are often involved in treating seriously ill and dying patients, but receive little instruction in end-of-life care. Prompted by several difficult cases, we developed an interdisciplinary program to introduce practicing RTs to ethical and end-of-life issues, and evaluated the program with a dedicated survey instrument.

METHODS: A convenience sample of RTs from a university hospital and nearby community hospitals participated in a one-day interactive program, in 2005 (n = 49) and in 2008 (n = 36), that included role-play and didactic components. The questionnaire completed before and after the program included scales on comfort with end-of-life care and role in end-of-life care, and knowledge indices.

RESULTS: Nearly all the RTs had recently encountered end-of-life situations, yet most had not received dedicated training and felt ill-prepared to deal with these situations; one third reported distress related to withdrawal of treatment. The 78 participants who completed both the before and after surveys had increased comfort with end-of-life care (P < .001) and their perception of their role in end-of-life care (P < .001). Knowledge about end-of-life care also increased (P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: A one-day interactive educational intervention can improve short-term RT comfort and role perception concerning end-of-life care. Evaluation of longer-term clinical outcomes and implementation in other venues is needed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • Male
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Respiratory Therapy: education
  • Respiratory Therapy: ethics
  • Respiratory Therapy: standards
  • Terminal Care
  • Terminal Care: ethics
  • Terminal Care: standards

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  • PUI: 359960881
  • ISBN: 0020-1324
  • PMID: 20587097
  • ISSN: 0020-1324
  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-77955508060
  • SGR: 77955508060


  • Katherine Brown-Saltzman

  • Devesh Upadhya

  • Lyle Larner

  • Neil S Wenger

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