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J Clin Nurs. 2002 Mar;11(2):168-75.

The hidden benefit: the supportive function of the nursing handover for qualified nurses caring for dying people in hospital.

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Winchester and Eastleigh NHS Trust, Winchester, UK.


1. The nursing handover is a key activity for nurses working in acute hospital wards in the NHS. Little scholarly attention has been paid to the use nurses make of the information exchanged during nursing handover or how certain features of the nursing handover might impact positively or negatively on patient outcomes. 2. This paper draws on data from a phenomenological study of 28 qualified diplomate nurses. 3. During the course of non-directive semi-structured interviews, some of the participants in this study expressed the opinion that nursing handover was helpful in enabling them to work with dying people in the acute hospital medical wards in which they worked. 4. The nurses identified two important functions of the nursing handover. The first was as a forum for discussing opinions and expressing feelings. The second was as a source of information on which to base their nursing decisions and actions. 5. It is proposed that some qualified nurses need help with the emotional labour of caring for dying people and that the nursing handover can assist in emotional adaptation, so enabling the management of troubling thoughts or feelings experienced in the course of caring for someone who is dying. 6. The role of the nursing handover in providing emotional support for nurses has been little studied and is a potentially useful area of future research, especially if it can be related to patient experiences and outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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