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The Health Care Providers’ Perspectives on End-of-Life Patients’ Sense of Dignity. A Comparison Among Four Different Professionals’ Categories

Journal of Cancer Education
Andrea Bovero, Chiara Tosi, Rossana Botto, Alessandra Cito, Valentina Malerba, Valentina Molfetta, Valentina Ieraci, Riccardo Torta
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The studies on terminally ill patients’ dignity as perceived by health care providers (HCPs) in palliative care are growing. The comparison of different HCPs’ perspectives in particular is necessary to explore how HCPs perceive patients’ dignity in order to promote reflection on this core issue. This study aimed to investigate the perspectives on end-of-life patients’ sense of dignity among four different categories of professionals: nurse assistants, nurses, psychologists, and physicians. A sample of 306 HCPs completed the Patient Dignity Inventory-Italian Version (PDI-IT) adapted for them and an ad hoc semi-structured written interview. Their responses were then analyzed using frequencies of the answers to the PDI-IT, a multivariate analysis of variance, Pearson’s correlation index, t tests, and content analysis. All HCPs scored the relevance to the dignity-related physical aspects highly, followed by the psychological distress. Nurse assistants and nurses provided higher scores on the psychological and existential and spiritual PDI subscales than the other HCP groups. The social sphere was evaluated as the least salient for the patients’ sense of dignity. Physicians who attended a course on dignity considered the psychological and existential dignity dimensions more. Differences in role and expertise could lead to different HCPs’ perspectives on dignity, while the multidisciplinary work could favor their aligning. Therefore, it is essential to encourage HCPs’ communicative exchange and reflective awareness through training, i.e., courses, seminars, and focus groups. These developments could promote increasingly adequate patient-centered care.

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