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Nurses' emotional experience of caring for children with burns.

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-11-22, 15:54 authored by Carol Hilliard, Mary O'Neill

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of this phenomenological study was to explore the emotions experienced by children's nurses when caring for children with burns, in addition to ascertaining how the nurses dealt with these emotions.

BACKGROUND: The nature of nursing practice is such that it inevitably generates some form of emotional response in nurses. The literature reveals that the manner nurses deal with their emotional experiences can impact on their nursing care.

DESIGN: The study used Husserlian phenomenology to explore the emotional experiences of eight purposively selected children's nurses who have worked on the burns unit of an Irish paediatric hospital.

METHODS: Data were collected using in-depth, unstructured interviews and analysed using Colaizzi's seven stage framework.

RESULTS: The phenomenon of participants' emotional experiences is captured in four themes: (1) caring for children with burns, (2) supporting parents, (3) sustaining nurses' emotional well-being, and (4) learning to be a burns nurse. Nursing children with burns generated a myriad of emotions for participants. Burns dressing-changes, managing burn-related pain, supporting parents and the impact of busy workloads on the emotional care of children and their parents emerged as the most emotionally challenging aspects of participants' role. Participants recognised the need to manage their emotional responses and spoke of the benefits of a supportive nursing team.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings offer insights into both the rewarding and challenging aspects of nursing children with burns. Nurses in this environment must be supported to recognise and manage their emotional responses to their work.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Helping nurses to manage the emotional consequences of their work will help to sustain their emotional well-being, enhance the care received by children and also enable nurses to support parents in their role as partners in care.



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Published Citation

Hilliard C, O'Neill M. Nurses' emotional experience of caring for children with burns. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2010;19(19-20):2907-15.

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  • School of Nursing and Midwifery