Of the 34,000 children who die annually, over 28,000 are four years old or younger. Nurses working in pediatric intensive care units (PICU) provide end of life (EOL) care before, during, and after death of these children. The purpose of this study was to determine thesuggestions PICU nurses have for improving EOL care for dying pediatric patients and their families. A sample of 1047 PICU nurses, who were members of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), were sent a 70-item questionnaire. One open ended item asked nurses to offer a suggestion for improving EOL care for dying PICU patients. Responses were received from 235 of the 474 (49.6%) nurses who returned the questionnaire. Eight themes were identified: (1) providing a better environment; (2) physician honesty about prognosis; (3) having a plan for dying; (4) ending futile care; (5) physicians on "same page;" (6)having more staff; (7) receiving more EOL education; and, (8) providing better pain control. Patient centered principles begin with creating an environment that allows the dying process to be centered on the family while fostering dignity. Fostering dignity includes providing an environment that is conducive to supporting quality EOL care. The importance of providing privacy and an appropriate place for the patient and family to feel more comfortable during the dying process was suggested. The need for better communication between providers and families, ending suffering, and having enough staff to support a "good death," were also high priorities. PICU nurses overwhelmingly suggested that the environment in which health care workers monitor, care for, and support patients and families during death is thegreatest area for improvement. Unit design teams need to assure that care areas for dying pediatric children are created to accommodate a dignified and peaceful passing to improve pediatric End-of-Life Care.



College and Department

Nursing; Nursing



Date Submitted


Document Type





end-of-life care; dying; pediatric; child; obstacles; suggestions, PICU



Included in

Nursing Commons