Aims and objectives: To explore aspects related to the fulfilment of the role of nurses in palliative sedation. Background: Palliative sedation demands knowledge and a proper attitude for maintaining comfort, preserving dignity and contributing to a peaceful death. In some developed countries, nurses have a well-established role in palliative sedation. However, studies on their role and its fulfilment are limited, particularly in the developing world. Design: An exploratory, mixed, qualitative and quantitative study was conducted. A self-administered questionnaire was used to examine the level of knowledge of palliative sedation and the level of confidence in skills and knowledge about palliative sedation. Also, focus groups were conducted to explore the emotional impact and the perceived role of nurses. Methods: Forty-one nurses from three advanced-care hospitals with palliative care units in Colombia completed the questionnaire. Also, four focus groups were conducted with 22 participants selected from the first phase. Results: A high level of knowledge regarding palliative sedation was found, but the level of confidence in skills was higher than the confidence in knowledge. The participants expressed their belief that their knowledge was derived from experience but believed that it was not enough to fulfil their role with confidence. A negative emotional impact about the patients' condition was found. For some, it served as motivation to provide better care. For others, it was difficult to face, especially when assisting children. They also expressed satisfaction and gratification about providing relief from suffering through sedation. Conclusions: The role of nursing is essential in palliative sedation. Although the nurses' knowledge is adequate, it primarily derives from experience and not from formal training, which impacts on their perceived confidence and their distress. Relevance to clinical practice: Formal training for the optimal fulfilling of the nursing role in palliative sedation is crucial to provide better end-of-life care, particularly in developing countries.
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