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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Palliative Care 1/2015

A mobile hospice nurse teaching team’s experience: training care workers in spiritual and existential care for the dying - a qualitative study

BMC Palliative Care > Ausgabe 1/2015
Kirsten Tornøe, Lars Johan Danbolt, Kari Kvigne, Venke Sørlie
Wichtige Hinweise

Availability of data and materials

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declared that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

KT, VS, and LJD designed the study. KT and VS collected the data. KT, VS, KK, LJD performed the structural analysis. KT transcribed the interview and drafted the manuscript. KT, VS, LJD, KK contributed to the interpretation of the results and critical review of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ information

KT, RN., RNT., PhD. student, MF Norwegian School of Theology and Center for the Psychology of Religion, Innlandet Hospital Norway, Associate Professor Lovisenberg Diaconal University College, Norway.
LJD Professor, Dr. Theol., MF Norwegian School of Theology and Director of The Center for the Psychology of Religion, Innlandet Hospital, Norway.
KK Professor, PhD., RN., RNT. Department of Nursing and Mental Health, Hedmark University College, Norway and Department of Nursing, Nesna University College, Norway.
VS Professor, PhD., RN., RNT. Lovisenberg Diaconal University College, Norway.



Nursing home and home care nursing staff must increasingly deal with palliative care challenges, due to cost cutting in specialized health care. Research indicates that a significant number of dying patients long for adequate spiritual and existential care. Several studies show that this is often a source of anxiety for care workers. Teaching care workers to alleviate dying patients’ spiritual and existential suffering is therefore important. The aim of this study is to illuminate a pioneering Norwegian mobile hospice nurse teaching team’s experience with teaching and training care workers in spiritual and existential care for the dying in nursing homes and home care settings.


The team of expert hospice nurses participated in a focus group interview. Data were analyzed using a phenomenological hermeneutical method.


The mobile teaching team taught care workers to identify spiritual and existential suffering, initiate existential and spiritual conversations and convey consolation through active presencing and silence. The team members transferred their personal spiritual and existential care knowledge through situated “bedside teaching” and reflective dialogues. “The mobile teaching team perceived that the care workers benefitted from the situated teaching because they observed that care workers became more courageous in addressing dying patients’ spiritual and existential suffering.


Educational research supports these results. Studies show that efficient workplace teaching schemes allowexpert practitioners to teach staff to integrate several different knowledge forms and skills, applying a holisticknowledge approach. One of the features of workplace learning is that expert nurses are able to guide novices through the complexities of practice. Situated learning is therefore central for becoming proficient.


Situated bedside teaching provided by expert mobile hospice nurses may be an efficient way to develop care workers’ courage and competency to provide spiritual and existential end-of-life-care. Further research is recommended on the use of mobile expert nurse teaching teams to improve nursing competency in the primary health care sector.
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