The issue of death and dying: employing problem-based learning in nursing education

Esther MOK, Wai Man Lee, Kam Yuet Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Caring for dying patients can be an emotionally painful, distressing and sometimes threatening experience for nurses as the illness is incurable and death is imminent. The avoidance of discussion of dying in the presence of patients in Chinese culture further increases nurses' anxiety. The purpose of this article is to provide an example of how nurses can be helped when caring for dying patients by using a problem-based learning (PBL) approach in Hong Kong. The process and value of using PBL is discussed from the students' perspective. Students went through the PBL process and documented their learning throughout the course in journals. A total of 96 sets of journals were collected and analysed. The case analysis explored the perception of learning in the process of PBL. Three themes, related to nurses' attitudes and caring behaviours towards death and dying, have been derived from the findings. They were (a) increased self-awareness (b) positive attitudes towards death (c) providing culturally sensitive care. Problem-based learning as a pedagogical strategy for achieving learning in death and dying was well received. Problem-based learning was found to be a highly satisfactory method for enabling nurses to reflect on their own attitudes towards death and understanding of the emotional aspects of death and dying. Independent finding of information not only prompted nurses to find information from books and journals, but nurses also interviewed experts and patients for updated and experimental knowledge. Tutorials serve as a safe environment for discussion and sharing of feelings and information. The results definitely support PBL as an effective teaching strategy for nursing educators in the area of death education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-329
Number of pages11
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education


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