Nurse Educator M.S.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Sandau, Kristin


Background: Dementia is a leading cause of debility and dependence and its incidence is increasing exponentially as the global population ages. Despite the terminal nature of dementia, the end-of-life process is often poorly recognized due to a prolonged decline and cognitive deficits. As a result, people with dementia may be subject to health care interventions that have questionable efficacy and may not align with their wishes. Palliative care, a plan of care that prioritizes comfort, is becoming more widely utilized for patients with chronic illnesses such as dementia. Purpose: The purpose of this critical review of the literature is to determine if palliative care improves the quality of life for patients with dementia and their informal caregivers. Results: Using Kolcaba’s Comfort Theory as the theoretical framework, 18 investigations were reviewed and analyzed. Attributes of palliative care were aligned with Kolcaba’s types of comfort and contexts of experience to determine how palliative care influences comfort and quality of life. Findings reveal palliative care positively impacts quality of life because it provides a framework that allows recognition of dementia as a life-limiting condition, promotes understanding of the barriers unique to dementia care, and identifies specific needs of caregivers. Conclusion: The evidence from the literature shows that aspects of palliative care can positively impact the quality of life for people with dementia and their informal caregivers. Implications for Research and Practice: Further research is needed to examine the role of palliative care in improving quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers. Large investigations are needed in a variety of cultures to increase understanding of quality of life measures in dementia and how palliative care can support these goals.

Degree Name

M.S. Nurse Educator

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis

Included in

Nursing Commons