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Cancer Nurs. 1995 Jun;18(3):228-36.

Oncology nurses and chronic compounded grief.

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  • 1Columbia University, School of Nursing, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Oncology nurses have repeated confrontations with death. To suggest that oncology nurses have emotional needs in response to the demands of caring for cancer patients has not been popular even among the nurses themselves. Indeed, there is little written in the professional literature describing the grief experiences of nurses caring for dying patients. To study the grief of oncology nurses, the Grief Experience Inventory (GEI), a multi-dimensional measure of grief that is sensitive to the longitudinal evolution of the process of bereavement, was selected. In addition, a demographic questionnaire to identify professional, personal, and supportive influences that might affect nurses' grief experiences was developed. Data were collected from June 1991 through May 1992, from a total of 50 professional nurses (termed Stayers and Leavers) on adult oncology units in a comprehensive cancer center and in an urban medical center. The findings indicated that both Stayers and Leavers are above the norms in despair, social isolation, and somatization. Implications for education and practice as well as suggestions for education and practice as well as suggestions for further research are discussed.

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