Iranian Nurses’ Perceptions of the Conditions of the Families with Terminally Ill Patients: Family in Limbo

Document Type : Original Article



Background: Understanding the conditions of terminally-ill patients’ family members is the first step in reducing their emotional distress. Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore nurses’ perceptions of the conditions of terminally ill patients’ families. Methods: This qualitative content analysis study was conducted in 2016–2017. Participants were 24 nurses purposively recruited from 14 hospitals in Tehran, Iran. Data were collected through semi‑structured interviews and analyzed through conventional content analysis. Results: Participants’ perceptions were categorized into two main categories, namely, behavioral and emotional turmoil and perceived worries. The two subcategories of the first category were family turmoil after receiving bad news and family members’ violent behaviors after receiving bad news. The second category included four subcategories, namely, feeling guilty, worries about patient’s fate, worries about the aggravation of patient’s conditions, and financial worries. The main theme of the study was family in limbo. Conclusion: Terminally ill patients’ family members are in limbo due to behavioral and emotional turmoil and different worries. Nurses can use the findings of this study to help terminally ill patients’ family members undergo a healthy grief.