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Nurs Ethics. 2007 May;14(3):372-84; discussion 384-6.

The 'little extra' that alleviates suffering.

Author information

1
Karolinska Institute, Section of Nursing, SE-141 83 Huddinge, Sweden. maria.arman@ki.se

Abstract

Nursing, or caring science, is mainly concerned with developing knowledge of what constitutes ideal, good health care for patients as whole persons, and how to achieve this. The aim of this study was to find clinical empirical indications of good ethical care and to investigate the substance of ideal nursing care in praxis. A hermeneutic method was employed in this clinical study, assuming the theoretical perspective of caritative caring and ethics of the understanding of life. The data consisted of two Socratic dialogues: one with nurses and one with nursing students, and interviews with two former patients. The empirical data are first described from a phenomenological approach. Observations of caregivers offering 'the little extra' were taken to confirm that patients were 'being seen', not from the perspective of an ideal nursing model, but from that of interaction as a fellow human being. The study provides clinical evidence that, as an ontological response to suffering, 'symbolic acts' such as giving the 'little extra' may work to bridge gaps in human interaction. The fact that 'little things' have the power to preserve dignity and make patients feel they are valued offers hope. Witnessing benevolent acts also paves the way for both patients and caregivers to increase their understanding of life.

PMID:
17459820
DOI:
10.1177/0969733007075877
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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