'Nurses don't deal with these issues': nurses' role in advance care planning for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients.J Clin Nurs. 2016 Dec; 25(23-24):3707-3715.JC
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
We used a question from the Healthcare Equality Index to explore nurses' knowledge and understanding of medical advance directives, medical power of attorney and other legal documents for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients.
Until the landmark ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and same-sex couples have had limited relationship rights as only a few states recognised marriages and provided legal protections for same-sex couples. Health care providers' knowledge of and attitudes towards advance care planning plays a significant role in determining whether or not individuals successfully complete advance directives, yet advance care planning for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals is poorly understood among both health care providers and same-sex couples.
These data were part of a larger research study that explored the current state of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-sensitive nursing practice.
Undergraduate nursing students recruited and interviewed nurse key informants (n = 268) about medical advance directives, medical power of attorney and other legal documents for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients.
Nearly 50% of key informants indicated a lack of knowledge of advance directives, over 26% reported the difficulties nurses face regarding advance directives are the same for both lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and heterosexual patients, and nearly 25% indicated difficulties including having to decide who has the legal right to make decisions for the patient.
The study demonstrated the need for education and training for practising nurses in advance care planning for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and same-sex couples.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE
Nurses are in a position to act as educators, advocates and decision makers for their patients. Nurse's lack of understanding of advance care planning may negatively impact the type and quality of care lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients receive.