Oncology Nurses' Narratives About Ethical Dilemmas and Prognosis-Related Communication in Advanced Cancer Patients

Susan M. McLennon, PhD, RN: Margaret Uhrich, BSN, RN, Sue Lasiter, PhD, RN: Amy R. Chamness, BA, Paul R. Helft, MD


Cancer Nurs. 2013;36(2):114-121. 

In This Article


Ethical dilemmas are inherent in the care of patients with cancer or with terminal cancer diagnoses because the care of such patients is complex and requires the expertise of many healthcare professionals. Nurses in this study identified ethical tension that stems from lack of truth telling, conflicting obligations, and futility. Nurses gave examples of ways that they have found to successfully care for patients with cancer and communicate about complex prognosis-related information. They also offered solutions to the ethical dilemmas about prognosis-related discussions that are often experienced in their oncology practices. Suggestions made by study participants propose that both oncology nurses and oncologists should engage in interdisciplinary education so that patients who are facing the end of life can do so in a more enlightened way.