‘It breaks a narrative of paramedics, that we’re lifesavers’: A qualitative study of health professionals’, bereaved family members’ and carers’ perceptions and experiences of palliative paramedicine

Madeleine L. Juhrmann, Phyllis N. Butow, Cara M. Platts, Paul Simpson, Mark Boughey, Josephine M. Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Paramedic practice is diversifying to accommodate evolving global health trends, including community paramedicine models and growing expertise in palliative and end-of-life care. However, despite palliative care specific clinical practice guidelines and existing training, paramedics still lack the skills, confidence and clinical support to provide this type of care. 

Aim: To elicit paramedics’, palliative care doctors and nurses’, general practitioners’, residential aged care nurses’ and bereaved families and carers’ experiences, perspectives, and attitudes on the role, barriers and enablers of paramedics delivering palliative and end-of-life care in community-based settings. 

Design: A qualitative study employing reflexive thematic analysis of data collected from semi-structured online interviews was utilised. 

Setting/participants: A purposive sample of 50 stakeholders from all Australian jurisdictions participated. 

Results: Five themes were identified: positioning the paramedic (a dichotomy between the life saver and community responder); creating an identity (the trusted clinician in a crisis), fear and threat (feeling afraid of caring for the dying), permission to care (seeking consent to take a palliative approach) and the harsh reality (navigating the role in a limiting and siloed environment). 

Conclusion: Paramedics were perceived to have a revered public identity, shaped by their ability to fix a crisis. However, paramedics and other health professionals also expressed fear and vulnerability when taking a palliative approach to care. Paramedics may require consent to move beyond a culture of curative care, yet all participant groups recognised their important adjunct role to support community-based palliative care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1266-1279
Number of pages14
JournalPalliative Medicine
Volume37
Issue number8
Early online date14 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • ambulance
  • emergency medical services
  • Palliative care
  • paramedic
  • qualitative research
  • terminal care

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