Lived experiences of Rwandan ICU nurses caring for patients with a do-not-resuscitate order

E Nankundwa, P Brysiewicz


Background. Do not resuscitate (DNR) is the policy and practice of deliberately not attempting to resuscitate a person whose heart has stopped beating. Research on nursing care for patients designated with DNR orders has been conducted since the late 1980s; however, no study appears to have been carried out in the Rwandan setting.

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of nurses caring for a patient with a DNR order in an intensive care unit (ICU) in Kigali, Rwanda, in order to suggest nursing recommendations.

Methods. Using a phenomenological approach, two semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant to explore their lived experiences of caring for patients with DNR orders. The sample comprised six nurses from an ICU in a large tertiary-level hospital in Kigali, Rwanda.

Results. The data were organised into categories based on a review of the data from the interviews of the six participants. The categories were: feeling emotional distress; barrier to optimal care; and not part of decision-making.

Conclusion. DNR orders are a fairly new concept in Rwanda and the practice of DNR orders in ICU is very demanding for the staff, especially the ICU nurses. Additional education about DNR orders as well as policies to guide its implementation could assist ICU nurses in their difficult work.

Authors' affiliations

E Nankundwa, School of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Rwanda, Kigali, Rwanda

P Brysiewicz, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Full Text



Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR), intensive care unit, intensive care nurses, Rwanda

Cite this article

Southern African Journal of Critical Care 2017;33(1):19-22. DOI:10.7196/281

Article History

Date submitted: 2016-05-28
Date published: 2017-07-11

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