The aim of this study was to investigate the difficulties encountered by nurses who have cared for terminally ill cancer patients at general hospitals. To collect data, a survey by questionnaire was self-administered. The respondents were 375 nurses and the response rate was 70.2%. Factor analysis was conducted on 80 items related to the difficulties encountered by nurses who have cared for terminally ill cancer patients to allow reasonable item reduction and to explore better domains. Two items were excluded and the results revealed eight underlying domains: 'Communication with patients and families', 'Knowledge and skill of nurses', 'Treatment and informed consent (IC)','Personal issues', 'Collaboration as a team including patients and families', 'Environment and system', 'Collaboration among nurses', and 'Near-death issues'. Cronbach's alpha coefficients for each domain ranged from 0.77 to 0.93. The results showed that nurses working at general hospitals have experienced a high degree of difficulty overall while caring for the dying, particularly with communication with patients and families. It was concluded that this study was useful in determining the specific areas where nursing education and research should be focused.
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