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Heart Lung. 2002 Jan-Feb;31(1):67-75.

The importance of nurse caring behaviors as perceived by patients receiving care at an emergency department.

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Emergency department at University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland.



Increased workload at the emergency department (ED) and the shortage of nurses may leave some patients without proper care. The importance of patients' perceptions of caring is vital when organizing nursing practice under such circumstances.


The purpose of the study was to identify which nurse caring behaviors are perceived by patients in an ED as important indicators of caring. The nurse caring behaviors were categorized in terms of relative importance with respect to demographic variables and perceived illness. Watson's theory of caring was used as a theoretic framework for this quantitative and descriptive study.


A 61-item questionnaire designed on the basis of Cronin and Harrison's Caring Behaviors Assessment tool, which reflected the 10 carative factors of Watson's theory, was mailed to 300 ED patients. The response rate was 60.7%.


Results showed that subjects scored the items "Know what they are doing", "Know when it is necessary to call the doctor", "Know how to give shots, IVs, etc.", and "Know how to handle equipment" as the most important nurse caring behaviors. The subscale "human needs assistance" was ranked highest.


In line with several previous studies, subjects considered clinical competence to be the most important nurse caring behavior, which further emphasizes the notion of caring as a moral stance integral to all interactions with patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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