Near Death Experience Netwrok Australia Title

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Overview | Competencies and Codes | Self Reflection | Early Intervention | Early S&S of a Mental Health Problem | Interventions | References

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This web site is an online network for NDErs, their friends and families and health professionals.

As a network, different areas of interest and needs are touched on. Furthermore, links to information available online will hopefully expand to cover services and support all over Australia.

On this page, initial information is provided to aid Australian health professionals in providing psychosocial support.


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Competencies and Codes


ANMC Competencies

2.3 Practices in a way that acknowledges the dignity, culture, values, beliefs and rights of individuals/groups
2.4 Advocates for individuals/groups and their rights for nursing and health care within organisational and management structures

Code of Ethics

Nurses respect individual's needs, values, culture and vulnerability in the provision of nursing care.

Code of Professional Conduct

4. Nurses respect the dignity, culture, ethnicity, values and beliefs of people receiving care and treatment, and of their colleagues.

These are competencies and codes for Australian registered nurses.






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Self Reflection

  • It is important to be aware of how we are about working with patients who have undergone a Near Death Experience (NDE).

  • The quality of the health practioner­patient therapeutic relationship is a key indicator in influencing the patient in a positive, safety­enhancing manner.

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Early Intervention


Initially, NDErs may be excited to share their experiences; often, this sharing is with a nurse or other trusted member of the health care team.

Unfortunately, research indicates that when these initial disclosures are met with responses that are discounting , are devaluing , or imply pathology , then the client is likely to remain confused, isolated, and mute about what, typically, is the most profound experience of their life (Greyson, 1997).

Patients who have undergone a NDE have a better outcome and prognosis if they are supported early. NDEs have potentially very constructive aftermaths in NDErs' lives, especially if caregivers­health care professionals, family, and friends­ respond constructively to the NDEr.

Early intervention targets individuals at risk of undergoing a NDE, both during and after the NDE. While early signs and symptoms of developing a mental health problem after a NDE are less intense and disruptive than a diagnosable disorder, they can still produce a diminished state of mental health and will probably markedly disrupt the person's social interactions.

Situations in which a NDE may occur:

  • Brain function is severely impaired:
    • cardiac arrest
    • coma
    • hypovolemic shock
    • general anaesthesia,
    • electrocution.
  • Brain function is intact:
    • high fever
    • extreme dehydration and/or hypothermia
    • major depressive crisis
    • meditation
    • impending unavoidable death
    • spontaneous onset.

To assess a client ask questions to open­the­door (Duffy and Olson, 2007):

  • Some people have an unusual experience while they're unconscious. Did you?
  • You look very peaceful. Is there a reason for that?
  • Did you have an unusual dream?
  • Did you have a sense of being separate from your body while you were being revived?

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Early S &S of a Mental Health Problem

  • Extreme need to talk about the NDE.
  • Anger, sadness and depression to be back on earth.
  • NDE is everything, life on earth is dull and boring.
  • Feeling rejected by those who didn't experience a NDE.

  • Afraid to be declared mad.
  • Incapacity to put NDE into words.
  • No unconditional love experienced from earthly relationships.
  • Not knowing what to do with the heightened intuition.

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During the NDE:

  • Avoid statements that implicate a hopeless situation and explain procedures.
  • Stand at the head of the bed. (Morse, 1994)
  • Hold the patient's hand. (Sommers 1994, Bucher et al, 1997)
  • Let the family be present. (Simpson, 2001)

After the NDE:

  • Ask questions to open­the­door (Duffy and Olson, 2007):
    • Some people have an unusual experience while they're unconscious. Did you?
    • You look very peaceful. Is there a reason for that?
    • Did you have an unusual dream?
    • Did you have a sense of being separate from your body while you were being revived?
  • Be a good listener. Share the story. Remain non­judgemental and do not explain the experience. (Simpson, 2001; James, 2004; Duffy and Olson, 2007)
  • Verify the patient's experience and acknowledge others have shared similar experiences. (Simpson, 2001; James, 2004; Duffy and Olson, 2007)
  • Inform/Educate colleagues and/or family (Simpson, 2001; James, 2004; Duffy and Olson, 2007)
  • Referral to:
    ­ Support organisations
    ­ Reference materials
    ­ GP and/or Specialists

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  • Bucher L; Wimbush FB; Hardie T; Hayes ER (1997) APPLIED RESEARCH. Near death experiences: critical care nurses' attitudes and interventions. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing (DCCN), 1997 Jul­Aug; 16(4): 194­201 (20 ref)
  • Crisp & Taylor (2009) Potter & Perry's fundamentals of nursing, 3rd Edition, Elsevier Australia
  • Dougherty C.M. (1990) The near­death experience as a major life transition. Holistic Nursing Practice 4, 84­90.
  • Duffy N; Olson M (2007) Supporting a patient after a near­death experience. Nursing (NURSING), 37(4): 46­8 (6 ref)
  • Greyson B. (1997) The near­death experience as a focus of clinical attention. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 185(5), 327­334
  • James D. (2004) What Emergency Staff Need To Know About NDEs. Top Emergency Medicine Vol.26 pp29­34 n Moody R.A. (1975) Life After Life. Mockingbird Books, Covington, GA.
  • Pim van Lommel, Ruud van Wees, Vincent Meyers, Ingrid Elfferich (2001) Near­death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands Lancet vol.358 pp 2039­45
  • Morse M.L. (1994) Near­death experiences of children. Journal of
    Pediatric Oncology Nursing 11, 139±144.

  • Ring K. (1980) Life at Death. Quill, New York.
  • Robertson SC Defining health and health­related behaviors following a near­death experience. University of San Diego, 2006; Ph.D. (165 p)
    doctoral dissertation ­ research
  • Sartory P., Badham P.,Fenwick P. (2007) A Prospectively Studied Near­Death Experience with Corroborated Out­of­Body Perceptions and Unexplained Healing Journal of Near­Death Studies ndst­25­02­02.3d
  • Simpson S.M. (2001) Near death experience: a concept analysis as applied to nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing 36(4), 520±526
  • Sommers M.S. (1994) The near­death experience following multiple
    trauma. Critical Care Nurse 14, 62±66.
  • Sutherland C. (1990) Changes in religious beliefs, attitudes, and practice following near­death experiences. Journal of Near Death Studies 9, 21­31.
  • Sutherland, Cherie Olga. A very different way: A sociological investigation of life after a near­death experience ProQuest Dissertations and Theses 01/01/1992. Vol.0626,Iss.0423;p.1
  • Sutherland C. Near­death experience by proxy: A case study . Journal of Near­Death Studies June, 1990. Vol.8,Iss.4;

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