Caring for dying children: A comparative study of nurses' experiences in Greece and Hong Kong

D. Papadatou, I. M. Martinson, P. M. Chung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this transcultural descriptive study was to explore the subjective experiences of 63 oncology and critical care nurses who provide care to dying children in Greece and Hong Kong. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 39 Greek and 24 Chinese nurses who described their experiences and responses to the dying process and death of children. The data were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively, and nurses' responses were compared for their work setting (oncology versus critical care) and their ethnic background (Greek versus Chinese). Findings revealed that most nurses experience a sense of helplessness when caring for a dying patient and difficulties in their communication with the child and parents during the terminal phase of the disease. The large majority acknowledge that the impending or actual death of a patient elicits a grieving process, which is characterized by a fluctuation between experiencing and avoiding loss and grief. Greek and Chinese nurses differ in their expression of their grief and how they attribute meaning to childhood death. Despite the suffering caused by multiple deaths, nurses report significant rewards from caring for chronically and acutely ill children, and the majority are satisfied with their job, despite the difficulties they encounter, in both countries, mostly as a result of shortage in personnel and cooperation problems with physicians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-412
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood death
  • Critical care
  • Grief
  • Nurses
  • Oncology
  • Stress
  • Terminal care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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