The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2004 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

NEEDS ASSESSMENT SURVEY REGARDING END-OF-LIFE TRAINING FOR RESPIRATORY CARE PRACTITIONERS.

Barry B. Winn Ed.D., Henri Colt MD., Stephan Colt MD., UCSD Medical Center San Diego CA.

Background: There remains a perception that end-of-life care should be a function of hospice services and a specially-trained group of allied health-care providers such as social workers and nurses. We believe that Respiratory Therapists also have the time, skills, and desire to effectively deal with the emotional, spiritual, economic, medical, and social issues of the chronically or terminally ill. Our hypothesis is that Respiratory Therapists are not performing to their full potential when facing dying patients and their families. The objectives of this study was to (1) to identify current roles of Respiratory Therapists in end-of-life care, (2) to identify gaps in education, and (3) to identify therapists’ desire and perception about participation in end-of-life care. Method: This was achieved through the development and dissemination of a written, survey-based needs of Hospital and community-based Respiratory Therapists and Respiratory Therapy students in San Diego County. An optical mark-read (bubble-type) non chad survey was utilized. It was comprised of the Hoag Memorial Hospital survey instrument with specific modifications and additional questions pertaining only to Respiratory Therapists. In addition, structured oral interviews were conducted with three regional experts in end-of-life care including representatives from medical, hospice and patient advocacy organizations.

Results:
There were 561 Surveys were mailed to 16 Hospitals and a total of 199 Surveys were returned from 12 hospitals.

Discussion:
The responses from the surveys were tabulated. The responses regarding the “needs assessment” are:

QUESTION PERCENT OF TOTAL
Do you think that respiratory care practitioners should be a part of a multidisciplinary team devoted to end-of-life care? Yes (79%) No (21 %)
Do you think that respiratory therapists could play an important role in counseling and educating terminally ill patients or their family members? Yes (74%) No (26% )
Do you find there is a growing need for you to participate in “end-of life” patient care activities? Yes (62%) No (38 %)
Do you have a desire to participate in “end –of-life” patient care? Yes (51%) No (49 %)
Do you feel you have an adequate formal education to be an effective team member in “end-of-life” care? Yes (37%) No (63 %)

Conclusions: The results suggest that a majority of the respondents indicate that Respiratory Care Practitioners should have a formal role in End-of-Life care. In view of these results, the data also suggests that there appears to be a need for a formal education program directed towards Respiratory Care Practitioners who work with critically ill patients.


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