gms | German Medical Science

First Joint Conference of the German Society of Nursing Science (DGP) and the European Academy of Nursing Science (EANS)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pflegewissenschaft e. V.

08.07.2021, online

Accompanying of dying people during COVID-19 pandemic. Italian nurses’ experience through a qualitative study

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author Anna Castaldo - University of Milan, Italy
  • Marzia Papini - Univerity of Milan, Italy
  • Maria Matarese - University of Rome, Italy
  • Stefano Eleuteri - Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
  • Maura Lusignani - University of Milan, Italy

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pflegewissenschaft e.V. (DGP). First Joint Conference of the German Society of Nursing Science (DGP) and the European Academy of Nursing Science (EANS). sine loco [digital], 08.-08.07.2021. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2021. Doc21dgp05

doi: 10.3205/21dgp05, urn:nbn:de:0183-21dgp054

Published: July 5, 2021

© 2021 Castaldo et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Background: The COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the rituality of patients’ accompanying to death and mourning. Due to the pandemic, visits in healthcare facilities were restricted nationwide, thus healthcare professionals were forced to take family members role, and to guarantee patients dignity during their end of life.

Objectives: Exploring nurses experiences on accompanying of dying people and the approach to improve their moment of death, during SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Design and methods: The convenience sample included nurses who cared for people during pandemic. We carried out Focus Groups interviews (FGI) with nurses who consented to study, from August to December 2020, until saturation of data. We transcribed verbatim every FGI and performed content analysis.

Results: The study enrolled 31 nurses of which 28 Female with 40 ± 11 aged (25-63 years). Majority of nurses worked in hospitals, in the North of Italy. Focus Groups lasted on average 95 minutes, from which emerged 4 main themes: death during coronavirus pandemic, nurses ‘experiences of accompanying in dying person and support families during the end of life, grief management after death and experiencing psychological distress due to caring for people during Covid time.

Conclusions: Nurses defined the experience as highly traumatic and described it as a war context. We will expect long-term consequences for healthcare workers and families. Unprocessed grief is on-going and maybe will leave indelible marks. Also positive discoveries emerged, like reciprocal support of healthcare teams.

Conflict of interest: All authors (Anna Castaldo, Maura Lusignani, Maria Matarese, Stefano Eleuteri and Marzia Papini) declare no potential conflict of interest.

Funding: None.


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