The professional nurse\'s experience of the dying process of the terminal AIDS patient

  • P Bester
  • E du Plessis
  • M Greeff
Keywords: experience, dying process, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), HIV-positive patient, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), terminal AIDS patient, facilitate


The increase in HIV/AIDS raises international concern. Statistics indicate that South Africa has the fastest increasing HIV-infection rate in the world. Secondary infections complicate the issues and could result in hospitalisation and death of terminal AIDS patients. Nurses are increasingly exposed to this process. This directed the researchers to explore and describe the nurse's experience of the dying process of the terminal AIDS patient through a qualitative research design. Purposive, voluntary sampling was conducted followed by individual interviews. Data saturation was reached after 10 interviews. The data were then analysed involving a co-coder to ensure trustworthiness. The results indicated specific themes. Firstly, nurses experience that various factors influence the pace of the dying process. Secondly, contrasting experiences regarding medical treatment of these patients surfaced. The study indicated that the nurse experienced emotions such as powerlessness, relief and fear. Finally, the needs and behaviours of the terminal AIDS patient, and the specific behaviours of the nurses were revealed. Value judgements regarding the patient, his family, medical treatment and the nurse's conduct during the dying process were also noted. Recommendations focus on the following: nurses' personal coping with the dying process, extended coping skills in the guidance of terminal AIDS patients and their handling of specific themes during the dying process.

Keywords: experience; dying process; Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV); HIV-positive patient; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS); terminal AIDS patient; facilitate

Health SA Gesondheid Vol. 11 (2) 2006: pp. 40-52

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848