ICS Objective: To describe Spanish nurses' preparedness to care for hospitalised terminally ill patients and how this translates into care delivery.
Methods: An exploratory, sequential mixed methods study with two stages. Stage I used unstructured observations of 22 hospital nurses over 235 hours to understand their daily reality, followed by semi-structured interviews with 21 nurses to elicit their perspectives. Stage 2 was a regional survey (65% response rate) concerned with hospital nurses' opinions of caring for terminally ill patients and their perceived competence.
Results: The nurses felt competent to provide physical but not emotional care for terminally ill patients. They reported that care could be improved, particularly through providing more emotional care. This coincided with an observed focus on physical care. The nurses reported a lack of support in caring for terminally ill patients and wanted more education on emotional issues and dealing with their own feelings.
Conclusion: There is a need for an integrative approach in Spain that combines an educational programme with a supportive environment, focusing on developing nurses' competence to deliver emotional care and deal with their own feelings. Promoting a supportive environment might enable nurses to change their behaviour when caring for terminally ill patients and deal with patients' emotional as well as physical needs.