End-of-Life Care in the Intensive Care Unit: Study by Brooks et al.

The article by Laura Anne Brooks, Elizabeth Manias, and Patricia Nicholson, published by the American Journal of Critical Care, is dedicated to one of the most crucial topics ICU nurses face daily. Decisions on continuing life-supporting care or withholding it, ethical issues, and perspectives and experiences of the medical staff are discussed in the article. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the goals and methodology of the research and also to provide an overview of the findings and limitations to the study.

The study was focused on examining the issues and experiences of the ICU staff when deciding on initiating end-of-life care. The research was based in Australia and included 18 ICU nurses, 26 medical registrars, and 188 critical care nurses (Brooks, Manias, & Nicholson, 2017). The researchers used qualitative and quantitative methods to address various issues. Timing of EOL care communications, the difficulty of such conversations, plans for the implementation of EOL, and the involvement of patients and their families in the topical discussions were the principal matters. The sampling for the research was selected on a non-probability basis and included nurses with post-graduate certificates and experience in ICU care. The information from the inquiries was audio-taped and subsequently transcribed. All the data was confidential and subject to thorough analysis.

The study discovered several shortcomings in the process of EOL discussions. In particular, the respondents noted that the communications about the timing of implementation of the EOL care should start before the patent’s admission to the ICU. It was also identified that on some occasions, nurses are not included in the conversations with family members due to staffing issues. Therefore, they are deprived of the ability to “observe the language that physicians use to enable difficult conversations” (Brooks et al., 2017, p. 338). All in all, the study determined that there still is a gap of communication between the medical staff and the patients’ families, and certain adequacies in the organizational process of EOL care.


Brooks, L. A., Manias, E., & Nicholson, P. (2017). Communication and decision-making about end-of-life care in the Intensive Care Unit. American Journal of Critical Care, 26(4), 336–342. Web.