The Nursing Challenges of Caring for Brain-dead Patients: A Qualitative Study

Document Type : Original Article



Background: Caring for brain‑dead patients is one of the hardest duties for nurses, particularly in Intensive Care Units (ICUs).                                                                                                        Objective: This study aimed to explore the nursing challenges of caring for patients diagnosed with brain death.                                                                                                                            Methods: The present study was conducted as a qualitative conventional content analysis, and data collection was carried out by field notes and 15 semi‑structured and in‑depth interviews with nurses working in the ICUs. Data analysis co‑occurred simultaneously with data collection.                        Results: Seven themes were extracted from the data: uncertainties and conflicts between physicians and nurses, tensions in breaking the news of patient’s brain death to families, stressful experience of caring for the first time, nurses’ physical and psychological afflictions due to complex care tensions, stress of being blamed by patients’ family, difficulty in tackling the emotions of patients’ family, and finally, a sense of lack of support and protection in care. Finally, the main theme of turbulent confrontation with successive chains of tension in caring brain‑dead patients was abstracted. Conclusions: Since nurses confront chain of tensions while caring for a brain‑dead patient, this can affect the quality of this vital role to keep the transplantable organs viable; furthermore, authorities should implement special support programs for nurses