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Pflege. 2006 Jun;19(3):156-62.

[The nurse-patient relationship results of an examination about relationships between patients and nurses in hospitals].

[Article in German]

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Fachhochschule Osnabrück, Studiengang Pflegewissenschaft, Osnabrüick.


The nurse-patient relationship has received particular attention in the relevant literature. For patients in life threatening and existentially challenging situations, nursing activities often require a close intimacy. A good nurse-patient relationship is a precondition for effective nursing interventions, but by itself also contributes to the healing process. How such a relationship is realized in everyday nursing situations remains, however, unclear Literature predominantly details normative expectations on the nurse-patient relationship that are based on nursing theory or concepts from humanistic psychology. The operationalisation of these concepts into nursing practice is not given. In order to answer the research question "How do nurses experience their relationship with the patient?" qualitative interviews were conducted. Thus, the nurse-patient relationship was explored from the perspective of the nurses and considered in the context of their specific working situations. Nurses related their experiences, emotions and stress resulting from different kinds of nurse-patient relationships. Data were collected, organised and analysed following Giorgi's 1985 phenomenological analysis. Results show an ambivalence by nurses between closeness and distance in their relationship with patients. These relationships also show a polar vascillation between, for example, "sympathy" and "antipathy", or "being able to help" and "helplessness". The development of the relationship is often not very professional and depends on the specific situation and those individual persons participating in it. It is also apparent that those models of the humanistic psychology which have been discussed in nursing contexts cannot serve as such as a basis for the development of the nurse-patient relationship. A particular aspect of developing relationships in nursing are nursing interventions which necessitate bodily contact and physical work with patients. Concepts including these aspects of nursing can serve as valid and concrete starting points in order to find a way unique to nursing to create effective relationships with patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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