The purpose of this paper is to evaluate two middle range theories abilities to test the concept of comfort for the practice question “Do neonatal nurses who care for dying infants who attend an end of life care educational training program compared to neonatal nurses who do not attend the program experience a difference in comfort levels (Comfort Level for Caring for Dying Infants (CLCDI)) when caring for a dying infant? ” A summary of two middle range theories the Comfort Theory (Kolcaba, 1994) and the Theory of Self-Efficacy (Resnick, xxxx) will be summarized and then critiqued using Smith and Liehr’s (xxxx) Framework for Evaluating Middle Range Theory. The discussion will conclude with a summary of strengths and weakness’ of the theories and a research hypothesis to reflect that reflects the most appropriate theories conceptual definitions and propositions.
Despite nurses as frontline caregivers for dying patients and their families many nurses have identified that they struggle with the responding adequately to the emotional devastation to parents and siblings when caring for a neonate with an unresolved terminal condition (Frommet, 1991). With the advances in neonatal care and life sustaining treatments, sick and very preterm infants do not often die in utero, at birth, or shortly after birth, but instead they often live much longer in a healthcare paradigm of comfort care and dignified death. This relatively new emersion of the end of life model integrates a more holistic approach which considers a more comprehensive view of the patient’s needs (emotional, spiritual, and medical) (Mallory, 2002; Mallory, 2003; WHO, 2002). With this paradigm shift, health care professionals are obligated to assess the adequacy of their own knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about death and dying. Multiple studies regarding nurses preparation for dealing with death and dying have consistently found that nurses that nurses do not feel educationally prepared to care for dying patients and insist that healthcare professionals should receive additional education on end of life care to bridge the deficit gap (Frommet, 1991; Robinson, 2004; White, Coyne, Patel, 2001; Beckstrand, Callister, Kirchhoff, 2006). These findings have led to a further observation that nurses caring for these complex patients regularly experience moral distress from competing principles of their personal, collegial, organizational, and religious/spiritual ethics (Frommet, 1991).
To help ease this moral distress an evidence based end-of -life educational training program for NICU nurses has been successfully implemented in several neonatal intensive care units (NICU’s) to increase the nurses comfort level of caring for neonates and their families at the end of life (Bagbi, Rogers, Gomez, & McMahon, 2008). To determine if an evidence based end of life educational program impacts nurses comfort levels in caring for dying infants and their families a question was developed using the population (P) intervention (I) compared to (C) outcome (O) format (Newhouse, Dearhold, 1997). The following discussion will focus on this PICO question “Do neonatal nurses who care for dying infants who attend an end of life care educational training program compared to neonatal nurses who do not attend the program experience a difference in comfort levels (Comfort Level for Caring for Dying Infants (CLCDI)) when caring for a dying infant? ” During the intervention a monthly 1 hour, neonatal end of life education program will be conducted over a 6 month period of time based on research about what nurses would like to know about caring for a dying infant (Robinson, 2004).