Asuncion Alvarez-del-Rio

Asuncion Alvarez-del-Rio

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México, Mexico

Title: How nurses face patients’ death in Mexico


Asuncion Alvarez-del-Rio has received her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and PhD in Science, main fi eld Bioethics, both from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México (UNAM). She is a Professor and Researcher at the Psychiatry and Mental Health Department, Faculty of Medicine, UNAM. She is the Member of the Board of the National Bioethics Commission from 2005-2009 and Academic Secretary of the Colegio de Bioetica from 2006-2012.


Views regarding death vary within the healthcare profession. We present the results of a study which explores the views of Mexican nurses about death in their clinical practices using the Nurses’ Views about Death Questionnaire, which was developed for this study. Two hundred and eighty nine nurses were surveyed, all of which had experience treating terminally ill patients. Th e questionnaire was applied in a voluntary fashion to nursing personnel of two diff erent hospitals in Mexico City. Th e study brought objective information on a situation that has been mainly viewed through anecdotic information. Results show that most nurses claim that patients should be informed when she/he is in a near death situation. However, only about half of them feel comfortable dealing with terminally patients. Additionally, the study explored nurses views about physicians’ attitudes towards patients who inevitably will die thus enhancing our comprehension on this topic which was fi rst addressed through a study conducted with Mexican physicians. In the current study, nurses consider that physicians do not have as much conversations regarding death with their patients as what physicians claim (when compared with results from a previous study). Nurses in the study agreed with the need of establishing special places and opportunities to discuss and refl ect about issues related to death. Understanding how health care teams face patients’ death in Mexico will have a positive impact on the development of educational activities in order to help them cope with end-of-life situations.

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