|dc.description.abstract||The evolution of the phenomenon of brain stem death has continued since the first recognition in 1968. Given that all cases of brain stem death occur in the intensive care unit (White 2003), it is of paramount importance that nurses develop a sound understanding of the concept. Despite this, a degree of misunderstanding of the concept still exists amongst nurses (White 2003). Furthermore, due to the sensitivity of this phenomenon, the nurses who care for brain stem dead patients experience complex emotions, leaving them in a state of cognitive dissonance, where the stressful nature of this work conflicts with their physiological understanding of the concept (Ronayne 2009).
This study aims to determine the nurses' degree of understanding of the concept of brain stem death, gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of experiences, feelings and emotions of nurses caring for brain stem death and identify the effectiveness of the coping strategies intensive care nurses employ when faced with brain stem death.
This will be a quantitative study, employing an inductive approach. Using Glaser and Strauss' classic approach to grounded theory, a sample of seventy-eight Scottish intensive care nurses from a single unit will be invited to share their experiences of caring for a patient who is brain stem dead, in a one-to-one, unstructured interview.
It is hoped that findings will determine the level of understanding the nurse has of the concept of brain stem death, and how in turn, they employ certain coping strategies to deal with this stressful phenomenon. Furthermore, it is hoped that the results of this study will inform future nursing practice and provide evidence for the development of effective support and educational services within the intensive care unit.||