Minimal research efforts have focused on why family members make the decision to use oxygen therapy for their loved one at end of life, and the thoughts of hospice nurses who recommend the use of oxygen. Many families and nurses believe the use of oxygen therapy in palliative care is a practice endorsed by the medical community. However, this is inconsistent with existing knowledge that oxygen use at end of life contributes to comfort and decreases breathlessness or dyspnea. Dyspnea, the sensation of breathlessness or inadequate breathing, is common for patients with end of life illnesses. Dyspnea occurs when an imbalance exists between the perceived need to breathe and the perceived ability to breathe. It is the “experience” of shortness of breath, and it may or may not be associated with suffering. It is important to understand the perceptions and experiences of family members who authorize the use of oxygen at end of life for their loved ones and to explore the beliefs of nurses caring for these patients. Patients receiving oxygen near death receive no value from the use of oxygen. Findings from research studies suggest that oxygen therapy at end of life is not beneficial and poses a dilemma for nurses and other health care providers in providing appropriate nursing care without prolonging life. Despite the evidence that oxygen therapy is not beneficial at end of life, it continues to be prescribed and administered routinely.
Gathoni, Mary and Schiefelbein, Janis, "The Decision of Families and Hospice Nurses on Use of Oxygen Therapy at End of Life" (2019). Posters. 20.