Intensive care nurses' perceptions of brain death

White, Geoff 2003, Intensive care nurses' perceptions of brain death, Australian critical care, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 7-14, doi: 10.1016/S1036-7314(03)80023-1.

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Title Intensive care nurses' perceptions of brain death
Author(s) White, Geoff
Journal name Australian critical care
Volume number 16
Issue number 1
Start page 7
End page 14
Publisher Confederation of Australian Critical Care Nurses
Place of publication North Strathfield, N.S.W.
Publication date 2003-02
ISSN 1036-7314
Summary Research during the last 2 decades has revealed significant confusion or lack of acceptance and inconsistent application of the brain death concept within the medical and nursing professions. The aim of this naturalistic and descriptive study was to investigate the extent to which a sample of 40 Australian intensive care nurses regarded brain death as a meaningful conception of death. In contrast with the majority of the literature pertaining to health care professionals' perceptions of brain death which has focused upon clinical knowledge, the study elicited the expression of personal beliefs. The study utilised a structured interview method with nurses from seven metropolitan intensive care units (ICUs). Transcript analysis revealed five categories of perception constituting a spectrum ranging from complete acceptance to complete rejection, with almost half (48%, n=19) the sample regarding the brain dead patient as less than completely meaningfully dead.

Rather than supporting the literature's suggestion that non-acceptance of the medico-legally recognised brain death notion is, necessarily, evidence of professional ignorance, the findings suggest the participants holding these perceptions were generally well-informed about brain stem function and brain death diagnosis. The study affirms the importance of supportive workplace environments which facilitate the expression of dissonant perceptions and proposes that educators and managers must acknowledge these dissonances.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/S1036-7314(03)80023-1
Field of Research 110310 Intensive Care
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
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